Queen of the Night [Georgia Hunter, Canada, 2018]
None of what Ali’s family goes through in Queen of the Night is easy. On one cold evening, Ali must confront his father not only about his mother’s death but also about his identity as a drag queen. This short film explores ideas of relationships, identity and reconciliation in a mere fifteen minutes.
The opening is promising with an effective use of silence and a kaleidoscopic shot of his face through a small glass window. Nonetheless, these glimpses of potential do not last for the full duration of this short piece.
The topic of a drag queen trying to reconcile his relationship with his father is a highly relevant one, and well worthy of scrutiny. However, this short film deals with it a little heavy-handedly. Lines such as ‘I guess I’m still that stupid little boy trying to get his father’s attention’ are so cliché that they almost lose some of their meaning.
Moreover, the dialogue between father and son is not entirely convincing. One of the reasons why is some limp acting from Yahya Bajwa and Michael Pacitti who play Ali and his father respectively. The lines feel too self-consciously rehearsed, and as a result of this their relationship does not come across as authentic. However, a much bigger problem is that this film dives straight into high-octane emotions with next to no build up. Admittedly, short films are usually to the point, and this can be a good thing, but you can’t suddenly import a climax of pent up feelings and expect it to be immediately engaging.
Finally, the happy ending is reached so quickly and somewhat inexplicably. This moment crystallises the film’s major weakness: it is just unconvincing. Although Georgia Hunter clearly has cinematic potential, her talents may be put to better use with a more nuanced script.
‘Queen of the Night’ was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.