Magazine article Screen International

'The Queen of Fear': Sundance Review

Magazine article Screen International

'The Queen of Fear': Sundance Review

Article excerpt

A successful TV actress is stretched to breaking point in this drama from Argentina

Dirs: Valeria Bertuccelli, Fabiana Tiscornia. Argentina-Denmark. 2018. 107mins.

An elegant, insightful exploration of the often pugnacious relationship between ambition and self-belief, anchored by a strong central performance from award-winning Argentine actress Valeria Bertuccelli - who also makes her writing and directing debut - The Queen of Fear combines humour and emotion to explore the emotional complexities of modern living. Picket up for sales prior to Sundance by Visit Films, it should capture further festival attention thanks to Bertuccelli and an accessible narrative; events celebrating female directors and stories will likely pay particular attention. Spanish-speaking audiences will surely respond to Bertuccelli’s magnetic, comedic presence.

Tonally, the film runs from absurdist comedy to emotional drama, and often delves into darker, psycho-noir territory

Successful Argentinian TV actress Robertina (Rober to her friends, Tina to her public) lives up to the film’s title from the moment we first see her, waking panicked in the night when the lights in her beautiful Buenos Aires home suddenly go out. Refusing to believe it is anything other than foul play, she endures a tense meeting with four men from the alarm company before sobbing alone on the doorstep, in the dark of night.

In the first of the film’s effective sharp cuts, we are thrust, suddenly, into the bright light of the following morning, Robertina’s paranoia buried underneath a stylish, just-about-composed facade. She leaves her similarly immaculate home, where a mob of gardeners and cleaners are her only company in her husband’s absence, to head to the theatre where she is rehearsing her upcoming one-woman play (the details of which remain painfully unclear to everyone, including Rober, until final-reel curtain-up). On arrival, however, she is immediately summoned home by a phone call from her housekeeper, who is in tears over a minor domestic drama.

The push-pull nature of Rober’s life effectively established, she is already balancing on an emotional knife-edge when a spanner is thrown into the works by the news that her dear friend Lisandro’s (Diego Velázquez) cancer has returned. …

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