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“Queen of Hearts”: Lust, Deception, Power and Manslaughter

Anne and Gustav

Anne (Trine Dyrholm) seems like a nice person. She’s a lawyer that represents physically and sexually abused children. She lives in a beautiful house with a loving husband Peter (Magnus Krepper) and her two pre-teen girls.

Queen of Hearts is a character for Lewis Carroll’s novel and he described her as a blind fury who is quick to give death sentences at the slightest offence.

Then along pops up teenager Gustav (Gustav Lindh) who is Peter’s son from a prior marriage. Well Anne and Gustav hit if off if you know what I mean. Having sex with a minor is illegal. The movie ambles on as we see the tryst develop then end. Lina, Anne’s sister, catches Gustav and Anne kissing and the movie begins to take a bit of a suspenseful twist. Anne is comforted that in the breakup with Gustav he has promised to tell no one about their little affair. Can he be trusted? Can Lina keep a lid on what she saw? Anne has risked just about everything in having this affair. Why she is having it is never really dealt with.

The suspense goes up a notch when Peter and Gustav go up to the cabin in the woods for some father and son time. Gustav spills the beans to his father about the affair.

When Anne is confronted by Peter she denies it and threatens to leave him. Anne, Peter and Gustav have a little family chat where Gustav vehemently asserts he is telling the truth. He spits on Anne and as a result he is sent off to boarding school. At Anne’s birthday party a colleague at work gushes on about what a wonderful person Anne is. At the party Peter learns Gustav is missing from school.

In one scene near the end of the film Anne tries to comfort Peter and one is ready to hear her confession but Peter rams her up against the wall and covers her mouth. It is as if he does not want to hear the truth.

Well the film turns very tragic and as a lawyer I’m giving some serious thought if Anne is guilty of manslaughter? All Gustav wanted was justice but the lying Anne denies it to him.

This is a very subtle film and director May El-Toukhy really does a superb job of refraining from making any moral judgements. That’s up to you and me. Anne is morally deprived. Peter does not want to hear the truth. Gustav is naïve and powerless. He can’t defeat the family power structure. As El-Toukhy states, “In Queen of Hearts a powerful woman makes a series of irreversible decision that have unimaginable consequences for her and the people she holds dear. The film explores how far we are willing to go, once those choices are made, to protect ourselves and maintain the status quo in our existence.”

This Danish film won the Audience Award for World Cinema Dramatic at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Available on VOD and DVD as of November 19th. You can also rent or buy on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and Vudu.

You can watch the trailer here

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