REVIEW: Danish Oscar Contender ‘Queen of Hearts (2019)’ is a Fantastic Balance of Good and Evil

Rating: 4 out of 4.

“One of the greatest performances this year.”

The Queen of Hearts is a card of beauty, idealism and affection, that represents a loving mother with a strong appeal to the opposite sex in May el-Toukhy’s psychosexual drama.

Anne (Trine Dyrholm) is a successful lawyer who specialises in cases of domestic and sexual abuse to underage children, living in an expanded upper-class house with her husband Peter (Magnus Krepper) and their twin daughters. But their perfect nuclear family is placed in jeopardy when Peter’s 17-year-old son Gustav (Gustav Lindh) comes to live with them. . He isn’t a golden child like his sisters, holding resentment towards his father – feeling like a yo-yo being passed between his parents. He brings back random girls to his room, he is rude to visitors and he steals when it suits him. There’s a similarity between Gustav and Anne’s clients, something that Anne can clearly see; so she is intrigued by Gustav and his character. He acts like the rebellious teen but at the same time will read a goodnight story to his half-sisters, or play around in a lake with his family. There’s a sense of good, a sense of struggle and a sense of Peter all within him, and it isn’t too long before Gustav and Anne form a strong connection. With the unthinkable on both of their minds though, they soon enter a passionate love affair, hiding in plain sight.

It’s Dyrholm’s portrayal of Anne that is the key to this movie working so well. It’s a deep character study into someone who can fight so strongly against sexual abuse but yet thrive off of it in an attempt to capture her young side. It’s an attempt to re-find your youth, and believing she can find the old Peter inside of Gustav. It’s never that simple, however, and when tension arises, Gustav’s immaturity and lack of life experience is made clear. There’s an obvious difference in generations here and a sexual fling is not fulfilling but just an innate desire within this couple. There’s reasonable cause for Anne’s actions, with a scene involving Peter and guests makes a strong point for how boring marriage can be along the line. Whilst Anne tries to spice up the get-together by seductively dancing to Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’, Peter remains oblivious, carrying on his conversation at hand.

Despite featuring an underage sexual relationship, the film isn’t afraid to confront or show anything whatsoever. Everything’s on the table when it comes to these scenes, so it’s probably not the best film suited for a family watch. It is Denmark’s submission for the 92nd Academy Awards though, and with the festival buzz it has snowballed so far, it has a strong case for why it should be nominated. All in all it’s a great portrayal of the good and evil that a character can reside within themselves, and where someone’s priority may lie when it comes to their career, their sex-life or their family.

Dir: May el-Toukhy Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper