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Queen of Hearts Movie Review

Bad Royalty

Denmark's 2020 nomination for Best Foreign Film is an uncomfortable examination of a well-to-do family dealing with internal sexual tension between two members of the extended family. We know that if it ever reaches a climax that it will yield disastrous results for everyone. Let's face it: if you head down that path in a story, there's little chance that it won't go there.


May el-Toukhy's "Queen of Hearts" exists in a near idyllic setting. Anne (Trine Dyrholm) is a very successful adviser and advocate for abused children and teenagers. Her husband, Magnus (Magnus Kepper), is a doctor specializing in infectious diseases. The couple has a lovely pair of twin girls. All is wonderful.

Enter Gustav (Gustav Lindh), the teenage son of Magnus from a previous marriage. He has become too much to handle for Magnus's ex, and he's headed for boarding school. Magnus intervenes and offers to house Gustav in hopes of avoiding boarding school for his son.

Gustav is a surly sort, and when a break-in occurs at his new home, Anne eventually figures out that Gustav is the actual culprit; he faked the robbery in order to steal stuff for himself. She threatens to call the police unless he starts behaving. Gustav agrees and things become peaceful in the house.

One day, Gustav brings home a young woman and the two of them make love. Anne, sitting in another room, hears the passionate cries of the young couple. It makes her uncomfortable, but it's clear that it also turns her on. Oh, whatever will she do?

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Soon, she seduces Gustav, and the ensuing sex scene is pretty graphic. You are unlikely to see a similar scene in an American film. The only one I can think of is "The Brown Bunny." After that, the only remaining question concerns what bad things will occur because of the affair.

"Queen of Hearts" all adds up to a cross between a Lifetime movie of the week and a Cinemax porn-lite film. Is late Friday night Cinemax still like that? I suppose this is all supposed to be a deep and heavy topic, but I found it to be pretty ordinary and with few surprises. This queen is not royalty.


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About Udara Madusanka

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