Queen of Glory (LFF 2021)

Comedy isn’t just for laughs. It provides them, but it can often expose flaws within society, bring groups of people closer together, and can be a coping strategy for grief or loss. Laughter isn’t just an emotion we feel but a tool to be used and the best comedy films often do it well. Films like Airplane! and Hot Shots! use absurdist comedy to great effect, but Dark Comedy films are particularly interesting. Something like 1989’s Heathers takes a dark situation and makes light of it with a small amount of schadenfreude. It is this type of comedy that is present in Queen of Glory.

The story centers on a Ghanian-American woman who has her life totally mapped out, including moving to Ohio with her already-married lover. Her plans are thrown into turmoil when her mother passes away suddenly, leaving her with the ownership of a house and a Christian bookshop. In an attempt to return to her planned life, she must arrange to funerals for her mum (one American and one Ghanian), live with her previously absent father and sell the bookshop without upsetting the only employee it has. Through comedy, Queen of Glory explores the aftermath of death without disrespecting the topic.

The protagonist’s life is relatable. She argues with friends and family, resides in an average part of Brooklyn and panics whenever things go wrong. The story wouldn’t work without any of these elements because her pain could just as easily belong to any of us. Loss hits hard and it’s explored through conversations with her family and an increasing number of empty pizza boxes on her table. It’s a difficult thing to process, made worse by the increasing number requests and repetitive questions about the funeral. The use of jumpcuts throughout the narrative amplify this to great comedic effect.

There are enough jumpcuts present to make a YouTuber blush but Queen of Glory never feels over-edited. It’s coupled with several smash cuts but the camera is often allowed to exist within the scene, letting the story play out. Timing is one of the most important elements in comedy, without which even a brilliant joke can fall flat. Cut to the next scene too quickly and the joke doesn’t have time to make an impact, take too long to cut away and the joke can fizzle out. Queen of Glory balances its timing perfectly which amplifies an already funny script. The gag about her wanting to move to Ohio relies on an understanding of that State’s reputation, but the deliveries are deadpan enough to get the joke across regardless of context.

With the story focussed on a Ghanian-American woman, it makes sense that Ghanian culture is also centred. There’s an almost educational aspect to its presence, but there’s an evident amount of respect for it. This is also the case for Christianity, which exists in the plot through the bookshop and the people who visit it. So often, race and religion are the punchline which, aside from being unnecessarily cruel, is lazy humour. This can be seen mostly in teen comedies like American Pie and Epic Date Movie. Not only does Queen of Glory not use them as punchlines but it never feels like it’s about to. Comedies can often put certain groups of people on edge, since there’s a history of jokes at their expense, and it can often lead to those people preparing for the worst. It puts people on the defensive, even if they ultimately don’t need to be, so to see a comedy that respects these topics is refreshing.

The only issue Queen of Glory has is its runtime. At 75 minutes, it barely qualifies as a feature length motion picture and it deserves more time. These characters are so engaging and likable that it feels almost cruel to spend so little time with them. The film’s conclusion is satisfactory, but feels slightly rushed, like there should be more time dedicated to the story’s repercussions. Much like all good stand-up routines, Queen of Glory‘s leaving us wanting more.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer