Queen of Earth Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Waterston, Patrick Fugit. Directed by Alex Ross Perry. Not rated. Available on Video on Demand.
After giving a fantastic supporting performance in Alex Ross Perry’s bitingly funny Listen Up Philip last year, Elisabeth Moss re-teams with the writer-director to star in the very different Queen of Earth. She’s equally fantastic in Perry’s alternately mesmerizing and confounding film, a dark psychological drama about a woman slowly coming unhinged following the death of her father and a break-up with her boyfriend. Catherine (Moss) joins her best friend Virginia (Katherine Waterston) at Virginia’s remote family vacation home for a week, and the two constantly snipe at each other while ominous music suggests something sinister just over the horizon. What exactly that might be is never clear, but Perry builds an atmosphere of dread and mistrust, while exploring the toxic codependencies of Catherine’s relationships (with her father, with her ex-boyfriend, with Virginia). It’s an unsettling experience that falls somewhere between art-film obtuseness and horror-movie discomfort, and its effects will stick with you, even if you don’t quite understand them.