‘Queen of Earth’: Berlin Review
An unnerving, acidly funny work that fosters an acute air of dread without ever fully announcing itself as a horror movie, Perry’s fourth feature may unfold on a smaller canvas than the expansive “Philip,” but is every bit as sure of what it wants to do and how to get there, built around an utterly fearless central performance by Elisabeth Moss. Moss (also one of the film’s producers) confirms that she is developing into one of our boldest young actresses.
Berlin Film Review: ‘Queen of Earth’
An unnerving, acidly funny work that fosters an acute air of dread without ever fully announcing itself as a horror movie, Perry’s fourth feature may unfold on a smaller canvas than the expansive “Philip,” but is every bit as sure of what it wants to do and how to get there, built around an utterly fearless central performance by Elisabeth Moss.
Waterston (“Inherent Vice”), who towers over the diminutive Moss, is a passive-aggressive delight as the friend who wears her social privilege with an air of casual smugness. But the movie belongs to Moss, who was wonderful as the title character’s neglected girlfriend in “Listen Up Philip,” and who again seems to have gotten profoundly on to Perry’s wavelength. She plays out Catherine’s decline with such startling, unpredictable rhythms that her every gesture seems conceived in the moment. Together, she and Perry pull you deeply into the character’s jaundiced orbit, until even her wildest suppositions seem to make a kind of private sense.
Elisabeth Moss In Top Of The Lake
Elisabeth Moss plays a young woman in total psychological breakdown mode in Alex Ross Perry’s Berlin premiere “Queen of Earth,” a startlingly audacious departure for the writer/director that also feels like a natural progression for an auteur in the making. In a wildly unpredictable, rangy lead performance, Moss shows us dark sides of her we’ve never seen before.
Moss wears Catherine’s warring mental states plainly on her face, which looks as if she’s been crying for hours (and probably has). Virginia, on the other hand, exudes all the sexuality and confidence the diffident Catherine does not, and admittedly dreams of being a member of the “modern aristocracy.”
In a brutally committed and totally consuming performance that already feels iconic, Elisabeth Moss stretches herself to highs and lows that are so fascinating to watch, it’s obvious what a thrill the actress had in playing a hysterical, delusional psychotic. Waterston has a powerfully accusatory, implacable gaze that suggests complete control, reaffirming the naturalism chops shown in her studio debut “Inherent Vice.” Moss also possesses a quiet power in her eyes, refracting mischief and an uneasy tranquility at the same unnerving time.
‘Queen of Earth’: Berlin Review
For one thing, this new movie offers a bigger and juicier role for Elisabeth Moss, the Mad Men star who had a supporting role in Philip. This film opens on a closeup of Moss as she is being dumped by her unfaithful boyfriend (Kentucker Audley). Her angry, agonized reaction seizes our attention. Throughout the film Moss traverses an astonishing range of emotions, from bliss to complete mental disintegration. She is fascinating to watch even when the film turns into a frustrating head-scratcher.
Waterston, who recently had a vivid role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, gives a compelling and convincing performance. But it’s Moss (also one of the film’s producers) who confirms that she is developing into one of our boldest young actresses.
Elisabeth Moss In Top Of The Lake
Date of Birth 24 July 1982, Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth Name Elisabeth Singleton Moss
Height 5′ 3″ (1.6 m)
Elisabeth Moss was born on July 24, 1982 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Elisabeth Singleton Moss. She is an actress and producer, known for Mad Men (2007), Girl, Interrupted (1999) and Get Him to the Greek (2010). She was previously married to Fred Armisen.
She graduated high school two years early.
Studied ballet with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Mother is a musician and father manages jazz musicians.
Second wife of Fred Armisen.
To go from Girl, Interrupted (1999), where I had to cry every day, to a TV show like The West Wing (1999), where I get to laugh and joke around every day, has been a welcome relief.
The great thing about Pete and Peggy’s storyline is that you barely have to do anything. There’s so much there, so much history, that you can have them exchange a look and it’s so loaded. So you honestly don’t have to do anything.
Obviously, my life and my job in 2010 is very different from Peggy’s experience in the 1960s. I exist in a world that enjoys more equality between men and women. But I don’t take any of that into my performance. I just want to play the character as who she is as an individual – scene to scene.\
I’ve heard people say, ‘I love how the characters never say what they’re really thinking, and I love how things are so open-ended and you just never know what’s going to happen.’ Do you know what I mean? So it’s an opinion, you know? I’ve heard very few, if any criticisms of the show, and I think that it obviously is working, whatever we’re doing.
I think my guideline has been to find things that inspire me. And as long as I stick to that, I don’t think I’ll have any problems crossing over to becoming an adult actress.
I think every day there is some new actress who comes out and inspires me to do something else… like Hilary Swank. After she did Boys Don’t Cry (1999), I felt this yearning to go out and be even half as good as she was.
I love working with male actors, and I think there’s a tendency to write really interesting characters that would work solely alongside men where they would be in a man’s world and have to deal with that, and it creates a lot of interesting storylines. For me, it’s kind of circumstantial, but I definitely enjoy it.
I heard that people were really interested in the new haircut, which I think is so funny. Great haircut, I really like it. It goes great with the time period. And I was super, super, super-happy to have my bangs swept to the side rather than straight in front of me, which I dealt with for three seasons. I’m very, very much done with that.
I don’t think any of us could have possibly anticipated how successful Mad Men (2007) has been. When we were working on the pilot, we loved it. We thought it was special. We hoped and prayed it’d be a success. But, we didn’t count on it.
I don’t feel I was ever a ‘famous’ child actor. I was just a working actor who happened to be a kid. I was never really in a hit show until I was a teenager with The West Wing (1999), playing “First Daughter Zoey Bartlet”. In a way, that was my saving grace – not being a star on a hit show. It kept me working and kept me grounded.
There’s nothing like getting yourself into character and seeing a different person. It really wears on your vanity.
It’s a great dynamic. The dynamic between men and women in the workplace is really interesting.
I think one of my biggest influences is Bette Davis. I’ve seen almost every one of her films, and she’s been very inspiring to me.
[observation, 2014] I feel like I’ve been working for a long time. And I feel like I’m in a place I’m proud to be in. We’re doing projects I’m proud of, with people I like to work with.