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Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

'Dronningen' is a film that demands all emotions on deck, as the bleakness of reality washes in over you like a tsunami filled with sorrow, sadness and anger. It plays persistently with your thoughts and feelings in a way that mirrors the happenings on screen as your body screams to be allowed out of this nightmare, but ‘Queen of Hearts’ has the upper hand and holds a tight grip as it lays out a royal flush that crushes everyone and everything on its path. Once upon a time this was a full house filled with love, now there is only four of a kind left in the family, while all affections are flushed straight down the toilet by the hands of an almost royal figure who used to flourish but now falters… withers… and fades away.

'Dronningen' deals a lot with human nature and nature itself is used to reflect that. Seasons change with the events and characters of the film and nature is almost a character in itself – both the hot summer days and the bleak winter nights play vital roles in the risky role play of our main character, Anne. And how fascinating it is to follow the descent of this dame into absolute disaster. The way she starts out as a busy businesswoman who can hold her own – in private and in profession – while also being a seemingly caring and kindhearted human being. However, there are also clear flashes of a female living in a dense fog looking for a decent f*ck. Well okay, it isn’t as simple as that, but to put it more precise she seems to be stuck in a monotone life, which then turns into a midlife crisis that evolves towards an actual epiphany. Because when Gustav suddenly enters… everything changes.

But afore anything of any actual weight happens, we are left impatiently waiting for the moment of inevitability – the moment where moments collide and come together into a climax of relief and release… in more than one way, I guess. We know how wrong it is, but the chemistry between the two leads is so good that we want it to happen – we wish to see the past confrontations finally bear fruit… the forbidden kind. And so, it does. In a sudden way that doesn’t seduce us but honestly rape your senses and sense of reality. Because, in a way, you were in this dream-like state with them, but quickly realize exactly what it was you were rooting for. Unfortunately, though, I found out that this important scene was removed from the international version, which I’m honestly really mad about. I find the scene pivotal to the plot and the way it is presented and plays out is a turning point for the film.

In the scene we see an explicit blowjob, which I personally think gives you the wakeup call needed to actually question your thoughts and feelings up until now. Because a wonderfully romantic and sensual scene would not have set off the same emotions as the sexually shocking images that strips the viewer naked with his or hers sudden inner conflicts. As an audience – or as a witness – we feel confronted, called out and even condemned in a way. It is a powerful scene that sets the rest of the plot in motion and truly proves that Anne is on a collision course we expect will not end well… her wild and almost animalistic side was suddenly not only seeking or searching… it was hunting. The inner id has taken control and Anne feels almost invincible and thus also too comfortable for her own good, which ends up breaking their little fairytale world filled with these wonderful wrongdoings.

And this is where the film really finds its grip and becomes truly gripping – and not just in the sense of getting your full attention, but actually almost literally gripping your throat with a tight hold, locking off air supply and holding you down in your seat making you watch… ‘Clockwork Orange’ style. Anne is confronted by her husband after Gustav have told his father everything and Anne actually lets out a defeated “yes” when she is asked about the truths of all this. However, shortly after she backtracks her story, backstabs Gustav and continues to coldheartedly lure Peter straight into her laid out trap of lawyer-level argumentation and foul play. I particularly love when she tells Peter how ridiculously easy it is to manipulate him – referring of course to Gustav, but in reality, talking about herself… a brilliant but bone-chilling scene. While unwilling to admit to boning Gustav she becomes a ticking time bomb in and on herself, as she let a lie become reality until that reality becomes all too real.

The scene with the three of them talking, shouting and screaming – externally and internally – is absolutely devastating, as Anne derails into the deranged almost. Once, a seemingly caring woman who devoted her life to helping young people in trouble is now terrorizing and tearing apart that very same youth. Gustav is alone more than ever right now, and Anne’s lie is like a leech sucking out all that is worth anything, leaving him like an empty shell… cracking easier than ever… ready to break at any minute. Gustav’s last attempt at ending the insanity is as heartbreaking as it comes. He shows up in the middle of the night yelling for his dad, only to have Anne drive him away. His thoughts, feelings and emotions are all over the place as he desperately tries one last fix… all at once. He frantically tries to solve the present situation by calling for his dad and ending the lie, while also giving one last hectic attempt at going back to the past by confusingly kissing Anne before finally falling to the ground. It is clearer than ever now that there is nothing he can do. He cannot live in the present, he can’t go back to the past and soon he realizes that there is no future for him either.

The very person who made Anne feel so alive is now dead and guilt hits in both breakdowns and brilliant reflections on the past, as Anne looks out through a window but directly at her own reflection as well. Lastly, the final shot of the movie is so subtle yet so profound, as we see Anne and her family riding a car in complete silence. A car filled with grief… and guilt. Anne is sitting visually still, but clearly internally distressed. As she sits there quietly, without uttering a single word, she opens her mouth ever so slightly before everything turns to darkness and the horror ends. For us at least. The moment is almost a blink-or-you-will-miss-it moment, but I love the open-ended uncertainty of it. Was she about to crack up, break down and confess? Or would she have stopped herself before uttering a single word? Will Anne continue to live out this lie forever? A woman who seemingly demands liberty while also abandoning integrity… who is she really and what has she become? Dangerous, disastrous, disordered… a woman toying with feelings, dictating emotions and truly becoming… a Queen of Hearts.