Desert of dull­ness

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Film -

IF you think the idea of strolling through a bar­ren waste­land desert for more than two hours is as bor­ing as watch­ing paint dry, you would be cor­rect. Queen of the Desert does not prove oth­er­wise.

This cheesy ro­mance novel brought to life is based on the fas­ci­nat­ing story of a fiercely in­de­pen­dent woman with un­likely po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ences, but it is as dry as a sand­box and as fa­tigued as a de­hy­drated hiker.

In the early 1900s Gertrude Bell (Ni­cole Kid­man), tired of be­ing cooped up in her man­sion and be­ing shopped around to po­ten­tial hus­bands, wants to travel and ex­plore the world.

When the love of her life Henry Cado­gan (James Franco) dies, she sets out to cover as much of the desert in the Mid­dle East as she can, against di­rec­tions from the Bri­tish Se­cret Ser­vice, dur­ing the crum­ble of the Ot­toman Em­pire. The desert is set up as a dan­ger­ous no-go zone with max­i­mum threat, par­tic­u­larly for a lone fe­male trav­eller, and yet there is rarely a mo­ment we feel Bell’s life is in jeop­ardy.

With­out any ten­sion or sense of fore­bod­ing, this comes off more like Eat, Pray, Love with po­lit­i­cal un­der­tones.

The love story is per­formed with such heart on sleeve earnest­ness that one would be­lieve writer/di­rec­tor Werner Her­zog is try­ing to re­cap­ture those grand old Hol­ly­wood epic ro­mances; alas, it is likely to in­cite snig­ger­ing.

The seem­ingly end­less shots of trudg­ing through miles of or­ange sand are, ad­mit­tedly, stun­ning to look at and make for a breath­tak­ing back­drop to Kid­man’s still del­i­cate and beau­ti­ful fea­tures. But even so, there is only one Queen of the Desert and her name is Priscilla.

The sands of time never flowed more slowly than while watch­ing Queen of the Desert, star­ring Ni­cole Kid­man.

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