Sun. Apr 5th, 2020

The explosive affair between a mature lawyer and her stepson teenager

“Sometimes what happens is what should not happen,” Anne whispers to Gustav during an intimate encounter between the two. She is a prestigious lawyer specializing in the defense of minors and he is an adolescent angry with the world that is going through school problems, among other troubles of the age.

The phrase acquires special meaning because Anne is a high-class woman in her fifties, married to a respected doctor and mother of two daughters who has been involved with her stepson, a sinful relationship that explodes like a time bomb in the course of Queen of Hearts, third feature film of May el-Toukhy premiered this Friday in Spanish theaters after passing through the Göteborg or Sundance festival, where it won the Audience prize in 2019. “Our ambition was to tell a story about the origin of family secrets, investigate the necessary components for that secret to flourish and end up affecting family components,” he explains to The vanguard This promising filmmaker of Danish mother and Egyptian father with long theatrical experience.

Our ambition was to tell a story about the origin of family secrets. ”

During the first half hour of footage, the director chooses to introduce us to a more or less “perfect” family where the marriage formed by Anne and Peter enjoys a privileged position in their respective offices and live in the harmony of a beautiful house in the middle forest. Suddenly, everything changes with the arrival of Gustav, the son of a previous relationship with Peter.


The kid has come from Sweden to Denmark to spend a season with his father and finish high school. His manners are dry and shows a conflictive and introspective character that will gradually find in the stepmother’s company a kind of balm that will go far beyond what is allowed, giving rise to a sexual relationship that can only end in conflict.

“I think the reason she is attracted to and seduces her stepson is because she identifies with him. Both carry the same existential loneliness. They feel alone and somewhat alienated in their lives in some way, ”El-Toukhy justifies to illustrate a story that dives not only on the subject of incest, but on the meaning of happiness, the mechanisms of power, betrayal or hypocrisy. of a superficial society.

The protagonist with her daughters

The protagonist with her daughters
(Festival films)

“I wanted to reflect how power structures work in a microcosm such as the family. For me it is a story about the responsibility that comes with being powerful and the rights that can be derived from being in power. The fearlessness of the main character is what makes her a great lawyer and it is that same fearlessness that somehow gives her a super power, but also leads her to commit a fatal mistake, ”he says.

Embodied by the powerful and risky performance of the magnificent Trine DyrholmAnne’s character feels sexually desired again when she is with Gusyav. And to illustrate that feeling of liberation and sexual attraction there is a totally revealing scene in which the protagonist begins to dance uninhibited to the sound of Tainted love in a meeting with her husband and friends. While they talk about their things, she fills every pore of her skin with desire, oblivious to conversations that are banal to her.

Peter and Anne, a 'perfect' marriage that wobbles

Peter and Anne, a ‘perfect’ marriage that wobbles
(Festival films)

That is when the camera approaches that woman who responds anxiously to the call of a second youth, although she knows that she plays with fire. And the director does not hesitate to show the public the pleasures of lovers under the sheets in high-voltage scenes that were “difficult” to shoot because she wanted them to look “real and brutal.” However, he clarifies that “there were many preparations and previous rehearsals for the actors to feel as comfortable as possible”, with no room for improvisation.

Throughout this relationship in secret, Anne develops as a true queen of hearts, capable of manipulating at will, as the evil sovereign of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll’s story that inspired the filmmaker when he wrote the screenplay for the film with Maren Louise Käehne. “Alice in Wonderland falls into a rabbit hole and enters a world where everything turns around and conditions change constantly. The main character also enters a rabbit hole and along with it, the public, ”explains El-Toukhy.

Frame of the film 'Queen of Hearts'

Frame of the film ‘Queen of Hearts’
(Festival Films)

That is why it is not surprising that the director is giving us clues of the monumental drama that is coming from the first stages of the film, with a camera turn pointing at the immensity of a forest and the introduction of a flashforward as an essential element to “wake up the curiosity of the audience. “

And it is quite true that he achieves this through his intense two hours, supported by that aura of the Nordic thriller so peculiar. Hypnotic and twisted, Queen of Hearts It takes the emotions to the limit in a dangerous game that perfectly dominates the filmmaker, who hopes that each spectator, far from being carried away by the controversy raised, “is able to generate their own interpretations of Anne’s actions”.

Inspired by the Lewis Carroll story

Like ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the protagonist enters a rabbit hole and together with her, the public ”

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