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River Queen

  • Film
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

A yearning panpipe flutter or an obtrusive slo-mo flashback is never far away in Vincent Ward’s over-egged and under-cooked period piece, ‘River Queen’, a limp and unfocused jungle epic about a mother (Samantha Morton, decent) who loses her son to war. While the outré setting – 1860s New Zealand where indigenous Maori tribes are struggling to fend off European settlers – is certainly enough to pique the interest, you can never escape the fact that this story might have benefited from the composure and decisiveness of a Malick, a Mann or even (whisper it) a Costner to locate its pulse.

There’s no doubt, however, that Ward has a distinctive feel for combining colours on screen, yet he’s a visual stylist of limited creative breadth  whose brash and busy compositions would perhaps have been better suited to a live-action Disney fantasia than a ‘serious’ costume drama. The pacing, too,  is totally shot, with ‘emotional’ scenes needlessly (shamelessly, even) staggered to push the central maternal relationship.

Written by David Jenkins

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 15 February 2008
  • Duration:114 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Vincent Ward
  • Cast:
    • Samantha Morton
    • Kiefer Sutherland
    • Cliff Curtis
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