Queen of Earth

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Queen of Earth Movie Poster Image
Unlikable drama about so-called best friends has cursing.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The worst tendency of human nature is to assume the best in others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Virginia and Catherine, though supposedly best friends, take every opportunity to mock and humiliate each other. 

Violence

A woman throws a coffee cup on the floor when angry with someone who's been taunting her in response to her discourteousness. She later assaults the man without harming him. When she finds a stranger sleeping in the grass outside, she brings him in, tells him she could murder him and no one would know. Reference to suicide.

Sex

A man and woman kiss.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Queen of Earth is a dark drama about two friends who are emotionally at each other's throats while pretending to still care about each other. Aside from their toxic dynamic, there's little action here but lots of talking about and flashbacks to the past. With language including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "bastard," in addition to thoroughly antisocial behavior and a soundtrack appropriate for a horror film playing throughout, it would be hard to imagine teens having any interest in the material.

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What's the story?

In the tearful opening conversation, Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) is angry and resentful as she breaks up with her boyfriend, James (Kentucker Audley), who is leaving her for another woman. Thus we are introduced to one of many extreme close-ups used throughout QUEEN OF EARTH. We are fed backstory explaining that Catherine has also recently lost her father, a famous artist, presumably to suicide. In her depressed state, she joins her old, supposedly best friend, Virginia (Katherine Waterston), at her uncle's lovely lake house for a week to begin to recover. Flashbacks to the summer before show the two at each other's throats in passive-aggressive pretend friendship. Last year Catherine was the happy one and doing a poor job of supporting Virginia through her rough time. This time the sniping continues unabated as they reverse places, with Virginia denigrating the unraveling Catherine. 

Is it any good?

This movie is artless and painful to watch, start to finish. The director-writer Alex Ross Perry keeps making terrible choices in editing, tone, and pacing, also demonstrating a worrisome reliance on frequent claustrophobia-inducing extreme close-ups that do nothing to get us inside his despicable and, worse yet, uninteresting characters. Ironically, this unrelenting visual technique repels us further from characters who are already repugnant without any visual aids to emphasize that quality.

The focus on two toxic, judgmental, cruel, insensitive, and delusional characters who nevertheless call each other best friends and claim to "love" each other just exponentially ups the reasons for not spending a minute watching Queen of Earth. Often this feels like an amateurish attempt to mimic the gravity and depth of Ingmar Bergman's masterpieces, just without the gravity or depth. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Virginia and Catherine continue to pretend that they're best friends. Does Queen of Earth give any idea of why these two keep insulting each other?

  • What do you think is missing from the movie that might explain why two people who clearly despise each other are hanging out together?

  • Why do you think the filmmaker keeps putting his actors in extreme close-ups? How do they make you feel?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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