As winter approaches in rural 1850s Denmark, an old farmer (Jens) and his family face starvation. With the harsh circumstances and the prospect of yet another tough winter, Jens agrees to ... See full summary »
Daniel experiences a spiritual transformation in a detention center. Although his criminal record prevents him from applying to the seminary, he has no intention of giving up his dream and decides to minister a small-town parish.
Follows a celebrity financier who ends up in prison. After being assaulted by a gang of bikers in the prison, he ops for voluntary solitary confinement. During this time he joins the choir, aiming for the top of it's hierarchy.
Claire, a 50-year-old divorced teacher, creates a fake Facebook profile of a 24-year-old woman. She finds a photo of a pretty young blonde and uses it. She has created an entirely fictional character, but why?
The evening before Christmas eve Vilde is hanging out with her friends at the central station, when she learns that her mother has been in an accident. She is forced to contact her biological father, but wants to run away to Tokyo.
Ines Høysæter Asserson,
Nicolai Cleve Broch,
1945, Leningrad. WWII has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.
Anne, a successful lawyer, lives in a beautiful modernist home with her two daughters and physician husband, Peter. Yet when Gustav, Peter's troubled teenage son from another relationship, comes to live with them, she forms an intimate bond with him that jeopardizes her perfect life. And what initially seems like a liberating move for her soon turns into a disturbing story of power, betrayal, and responsibility with devastating consequences.Written by
While the story in "Queen of Hearts" is so trite--incest between middle-aged stepmother and teenage son--that it's largely an elaboration of countless porn videos, as well as familiar of more mainstream erotic tales, it's such a superlatively composed picture and one that spirals around a visual pun rooted in Lewis Carroll's Alice books, that it becomes a thoroughly engaging experience. Critically acclaimed and Denmark's entry for the International Oscar, although it wasn't nominated, I may've eventually got around to seeing this anyways, but I was specifically drawn to it because of the references to the "Alice in Wonderland" stories, for which I've been seeking out a bunch of related films since reading them. The title itself, "Queen of Hearts" (although the original Danish seems to translate directly as merely "queen"), is an obvious reference to one of Carroll's characters. The first Alice book (the one that actually takes place in Wonderland), at least, is read to the young daughters in a few brief scenes throughout the picture. Carroll's texts are replete with doubling themes, so I also appreciate that the little girls here, although they're minor characters, are twins. What makes the referentiality exceptional, however, is found in the main location, the house and the surrounding forest, and the photography of it.
The "Queen" and protagonist, Anne (a terrific Trine Dyrholm) is a lawyer who advocates for victims of abuse, sexual or otherwise. The three clients of hers that we see are young people, one who was raped and the other two assaulted or otherwise threatened by their guardians. Contrariwise, Anne also seduces her 17-year-old stepson into a sexual affair. The visual pun here recalling a proverb also regarding the throwing of stones is that Anne and her family live in a glass house. Its many windows, with the camera often framing through them, expose her hypocrisy to the spectator. Her reflections in them even sometimes distort her image as two-faced. Recalling the throwing of stones, indeed, the stepson, Gustav, stages a burglary in it by breaking through the glass door. This is more than a play on the romanticisation and pornographic fantasizing of teenage boys with mature women or the supposed feminism of the admission that women may be malevolent narcissists (her narcissism being depicted well, by the way, with a scene of Anne admiring herself in an actual mirror), too, though, which I hardly think as profound an insight anyways as director May el-Toukhy and others may make it out to be. No, the wonder here is the reflecting of the Alice books--specifically recalling the sequel and Alice's going through the looking-glass.
In the looking-glass world, after all, everything is reversed, as in a mirror image. Thus, entering the mirror of the movie, an advocate for the abused becomes an abuser herself. An estranged teenager becomes obsessively intimate with a new family when he enters the looking-glass house. Even the father's mind is changed when inside. We, the spectator, too, may be expected to shift our allegiances from consideration of the erotic, including, at least, one scene, with its enactment of fellatio, that seems to intentionally mirror pornography, to the offensive, at this outrageous behavior. Our gaze being associated with the camera's eye, too, alternates between these two worlds: one peering through the windows from the outside, distanced and unflinching, and the other view within the looking-glass, wrapped up intimately with the melodramatic character exploits.
The forest, too, is interesting in recalling the environment of the Alice books. Beginning the picture and returning to a spiral shot of the trees is inspired. To paraphrase another proverbial cliché, "Queen of Hearts" is rather best seen to not miss the trees for the forest. On the other hand, I would've thought Gustav giving Anne a tattoo of a heart more apt than the therefore sign. At least, there appears to be one red rose among the flowers she receives from one of her clients, though. Regardless, if Anne is the Queen of Hearts in this conflation of Wonderland and looking-glass world, one might, then, consider Gustav as the Alice, but I consider the twin girls the best candidates for that role; this reworking is merely unorthodox in that Alice is not the focus of attention and is not the protagonist. There's another, perhaps unfortunate, pun to be had here, in the English language, at least. Anne, similar to the Queen of Hearts, oversees courtroom trials in her capacity as an attorney. Her and her husband "King" even hold a mock trial of sorts over Gustav. The climax of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is famously a parody of the nursery rhyme, "The Queen of Hearts." In this movie, too, then, we get Gustav as the Knave of Hearts who steals the "tart." Recall the go-to punishment declared by the Queen of Hearts in Carroll's version of her, too, and the denouement becomes of little wonder for this house of cards.
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