Top Ten Movies of 2015 — Number Eight

8 queen

Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth is spectacularly discombobulating. The bare bones of the plot make it seem as plain and direct as can be: Catherine (Elizabeth Moss), reeling from the death of her father and a recent breakup, goes to spend a week at a lake house with her best friend, Virginia (Katherine Waterston). The broken neediness that Catherine carries with her parallels that of Virginia one year earlier, as does the lack of sympathy in others stirred by that vivid sorrow. The execution of the story, however, is anything but simple, with Perry taking the already strong emotions and elevating them to feverish heights, essentially positioning the film in a freshly formed limbo in between intense psychodrama and full-throttle horror film while somehow keeping proceedings artfully understated. It’s as if Roman Polanski and Dario Argento got together in the late nineteen-seventies to collaborate on a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, and the two wacko Davids, Cronenberg and Lynch, sat off to the side solemnly nodding their assent throughout the whole shoot. Most remarkably, Perry’s approach unlocks a purity within the film, eliding indie film tropes to get at the relentless gnashing of the soul that burdens those who are adrift. Moss responds with a grandly fearless performance, paradoxically striking the perfect balance by boldly embracing imbalance.

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