Review: ‘Queen of Montreuil’

This wispy comedy-drama from Iceland-born director Solveig Anspach ("Stormy Weather") is a delightfully odd journey through a woman's mourning process.

An industrial crane, a real-life sea lion and a pink wedding dress help brighten the dark days of a newly widowed Frenchwoman in “Queen of Montreuil.” Wispy comedy-drama from Iceland-born director Solveig Anspach (“Stormy Weather”) is a delightfully odd journey through the protag’s mourning process, as she takes in two stranded Icelandic travelers she meets on her way home with the urn containing her hubby’s ashes. Convincingly tuned into its own idiosyncratic and seriocomic vibe, this indie should appeal to fests and has a shot at niche distribution wherever French-language flights of fancy are appreciated.

While trying to process her loss, Agathe (Florence Loiret Caille) takes in the wild-haired Anna (Didda Jonsdottir) and Anna’s twentysomething son, Ulfur (Ulfur Aegisson), perhaps for company, with her unorthodox guests subsequently striking up friendships with a local crane machinist (Samir Guesmi) and a mustachioed zookeeper (Alexandre Steiger), respectively. Frequently chuckle-inducing antics often make more sense emotionally than logically. Elfin-featured Caille is aces, and the rest of the cast is equally tuned into the pic’s specific tone, which mixes whimsy with an undercurrent of melancholy without becoming saccharine. Clean digivid lensing is crisp, score buoyant.

Queen of Montreuil



A Diaphana Distribution release of an Ex Nihilo presentation and production, in association with Mikros Image. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Patrick Sobelman. Directed by Solveig Anspach. Screenplay, Anspach, Jean-Luc Gaget.


Camera (color, HD), Isabelle Razavet; editor, Anne Riegel; music, Martin Wheeler; production designer, Marie Le Garrec; sound (Dolby), Eric Boisteau, Jerome Aghio. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Aug. 29, 2012. Running time: 87 MIN.


Florence Loiret Caille, Didda Jonsdottir, Ulfur Aegisson, Eric Caruso, Samir Guesmi, Alexandre Steiger, Sophie Quinton. (French, Icelandic, English dialogue)

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