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Sundance 2019 Film Review: “Queen of Hearts” (2019) ★★★★★


Marriage and expectations. What do we expect after tying the knot? Why do men or women commit adultery? Answering these questions is not easy and was never meant to be. “Queen of Hearts” is one those films that forces the audience to challenge who they are or don’t want to be. And the situation described in the film is the most painful to observe yet most educational of them all.

Anne is a successful lawyer, lives in a large and luxurious house. She has two children and a loving husband, Peter, who adores her. Seems like everything she needs is right where it should be. Things change in a dramatic way when Gustav, Peter’s son from the first marriage, comes to stay with his father. It was one of those days when Anne needed attention, which seemingly her always busy husband could not provide. That intimate relationship with the young man results into a game of power beyond belief.

When the film starts, we find Peter who’s ready to leave for Copenhagen as per police’s request. We can tell that he is upset and the news he may receive is not so pleasant. Then, we are taken back in time, when Anne handles a sexual harassment case. As she teaches her client how to answer crucial questions in court, we begin sympathizing with Anne for her attempt to help this young woman. However, that will be the only moment when you will have any type of positive feelings towards her since she soon becomes the most villainous woman character you would probably ever watch.

Gustav is a troubled teenager. He is 17 years old and does not have a stable temperament. His father does everything possible to manage his uncontrolled behavior. Shortly after, somebody breaks into the house and steals valuable things. For Anna, it was not a big problem to figure out the identity of the person who either arranged the robbery or participated in it. During that tense time and the moment while Anna is downstairs, Gustav with his girlfriend Amanda upstairs, something switches off in her brain. She becomes more unsettled, impatient, and looks for an opportunity to liberate herself from her always busy husband.

As the story unfolds, there’s a lot going on between Peter and Anna or rather nothing. But when she’s having a hard time falling asleep due to her fantasies, Anna goes to Gustav’s bedroom to seduce her step-son. That intimate relationship turns into a psychological game between the one who can be trusted and the one who cannot. And at the end of the day, there’s a price to be paid for a short-term affair that will turn the life of those involved into a complete nightmare.

“Queen of Hearts” is a bold and provocative film that revolves around a complex and truly troubling story. Written and directed by May el-Toukhy, the Danish masterpiece will leave you stunned throughout. Filled with a powerful performance delivered by one of the finest actresses in the cinematic world, Trine Dyrholm, the film cleverly captures sensuality, power abuse, and intimidation. Despite Dyrholm’s humanized portrayal of Anna, the viewer won’t be in trouble to find a reason to dislike this woman. And you can trust me on that, you will have plenty to play with.

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