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Queen of Hearts

Honorable intentions aren't enough to salvage funereal pacing and stilted dialogue accompanying a family's death-watch over its matriarch. Pic feels way overlong even at short feature running time. Fests may want to cast a glance its way, but looks unlikely to be dealt a hand beyond local tube transmission.

Cast:
With: Kirsty McDonald, Lisa Flanagan, Lillian Crombie, Tiah Hughes, Kevin Smith

Honorable intentions aren’t enough to salvage funereal pacing and stilted dialogue accompanying a family’s death-watch over its long-suffering matriarch. Set in a large indigenous Australian household in outback Alice Springs, pic feels way overlong even at short feature running time. Fests may want to cast a glance its way, but this “Queen of Hearts” looks unlikely to be dealt a hand beyond local tube transmission.

Sue (Lisa Flanagan), husband Ron (David Gambin) and young daughter Penny (Kirsty McDonald) drive through dusty terrain en route to clan gathering at grandma’s house. Another daughter travels with them, though she and her father are barely sighted again until final scenes. Heavy-handed histrionics ensue as the deteriorating health of Nana (Lillian Crombie) initiates soul-searching among extended family. Little of it is engrossing and opportunities for meaningful mother-daughter moments are scuttled by stiff, proscenium arch staging. Clunky transitions and mostly flat performances (Crombie is a notable exception) also serve telling blows. Tech credits are merely serviceable.

Queen of Hearts

Australia

Production: A Seymour Films production, in association with the Australian Film Commission, SBS Independent and Film Victoria. (International sales: Seymour Films, Melbourne.) Produced by Charlotte Seymour. Directed, written by Danielle Maclean.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Warwick Thornton; editor, Jane Moran; music, David Bridie; production designer, Sam Hobbs; sound (Dolby Digital) Chris Izzard; assistant director, Karen Mahood; casting, Anoushka Zarkesh, Beck Cole. Reviewed on videocassette, Sydney, Oct. 15, 2003. Running time: 48 MIN.

With: With: Kirsty McDonald, Lisa Flanagan, Lillian Crombie, Tiah Hughes, Kevin Smith

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