DVD Review: Queen of Hearts (2019)

STUDIO: Breaking Glass | DIRECTOR: May el-Toukhy | CAST: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 19, 2019 | PRICE: DVD $24.99
SPECS: NR | 127 min. | Foreign language drama | 2.39:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

Pitched somewhere between a Fifties era Douglas Sirk melodrama (All That Heaven Allows) and the 1980 porn film Taboo, Queen of Hearts is a moody, unsparing look at a family coming apart because of forbidden incident between a well-meaning mother and her troublesome stepson. This well-reviewed effort from writer-director May el-Toukhy (Long Story Short) was a controversial addition to 2019’s Sundance Film Festival and is Denmark’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film in the upcoming  Academy Awards.

Bold and unsettling , Quen of Hearts stars Trine Dyrholm (In a Better World) as Anne, an attorney with two girls, who’s happily married to her psychologist husband Peter (Magnus Krepper, TV’s The Bridge). Enter Gustav (Gustav Lindh, All Evil), Peter’s teenage son from a previous relationship.  He’s a piece of work—a troubled young man who has been a problem for his father over the years, and Annie virtually ignores him when he comes to live with the family.

What raises her interest is overhearing Gustav having sex with a girlfriend. This ignites a spark within her, leading to Annie seducing her step-son in a surprisingly explicit sequence. The two begin a verboten relationship, that quickly turns unworkable, then ugly.

With high marks all around for acting and audacity (with a dollop of perversity), filmmaker el-Toukhy refuses to wince as her film enters the uncomfortable zone. But beyond the no-holds-barred encounters, there’s a sharp, thought-provoking examination of boundaries involving family, desire, sexuality and the #MeToo Movement.

In addition to Sundance, Queen of Hearts unspooled at other film festivals throughout 2019, and has received some word-of-mouth because of its controversial topic. An Oscar nomination could only bolster its visibility.

Buy or Rent Queen of Hearts (2019)

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.