Review: ‘The Queen of Clubs’

A would-be thriller that has nothing to do with cards and even less to do with thrills.

A would-be thriller that has nothing to do with cards and even less to do with thrills, “The Queen of Clubs” reps an unwelcome change of pace for Gallic indie helmer Jerome Bonnell (“Pale Eyes”). Meandering yarn, about two twentysomething orphans who get into serious merde following a bumbled robbery, aims for the rural epiphanies of Bruno Dumont or the Dardenne brothers but falls into hysterics early on and never regains a proper footing. Mid-January local rollout won’t draw a full house; overseas winnings look to be sparse, with possible flushes in Francophone fests.

Aurelien (Malik Zidi) and Argine (Florence Loiret Caille) form a volatile pair whose incestuous, cloistered relationship spills over into bloody madness as the plot progresses. That’s if you can call it a plot — Aurelien tries to unload boxes of stolen copper and winds up killing an accomplice (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) — or if you can bear to sit through Argine’s hissy fits. In the past, Bonnell has proved a solid actors’ director; here, his thesps are merely running in circles. Tech package is passable.

The Queen of Clubs

France

Production

A Le Pacte release of a Gloria Films, Octave Films production, in association with Districup/Backup Films, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema, Le Pacte. (International sales: Le Pacte, Paris.) Produced by Laurent Lavole, Isabelle Pragier. Directed, written by Jerome Bonnell.

Crew

Camera (color), Pascal Lagriffoul; editor, Laure Gardette; music, Marc Marder; production designer, Marc Flouqeut; costume designer, Carole Gerard. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles 6, Paris, Jan. 11, 2010. Original title: La Dame de trefle. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Malik Zidi, Florence Loiret Caille, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Marc Barbe, Nathalie Boutefeu, Marc Citti.

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