Review: Queen of Glory

Written and directed by lead actress Nana Mensah, Ghanaian-American Sarah is all set to abandon her Ivy League doctoral program to follow her married lover across the country. Also starring: Meeko Gattuso and Oberon K.A. Adjepong.

While there have been countless films about family issues and loss, it’s taken the newer generation of female filmmakers to truly add a genuine women’s perspective into the mix and that’s what Nana Mensah achieves here. She takes a very relatable situation, involving romance, family frustrations and dealing with the death of a loved one, and adds her own modern but down to earth spin. Particularly in adding in the perspective of another culture, giving it a Ghanian lens, as well as reflecting the reality of multi-cultural neighbourhoods, refreshing its familiar themes.

Another aspect that helps give it an individual edge is the direction, while it leans mostly towards drama with a comedic edge, there’s also choices of shots and score which add an unexpected intensity. It’s quite sentimental and easy going for the most part, so it’s a surprise to have some added tension here and there, although it’s an element which shows a larger potential but isn’t entirely taken advantage of throughout. It has a classic New York feel, particularly in its opening, mixed with a great charismatic, somewhat sarcastic and kind tone. The entire atmosphere is filled with the sympathy of everyday struggles and family confrontation.

However, the one thing it unfortunately can’t quite escape from is cliché, the clearest example being the romantic element. It’s a situation that’s been done to death, the married man making plans with his mistress to leave his wife which everyone knows they’re never going to go through with. It’s a shame as it puts a predictable tinge to the story and undermines its otherwise strong lead woman. Sadly, predictability is something it struggles with, there’s no real surprise to the progression of the story, and it doesn’t strike too many layers deep, all of its emotions are dealt with fairly close to the surface.

One thing which can’t be faulted although is the performance from Nana Mensah as Sarah, she’s witty and forthright but also kind and considerate. She brings a great character who’s compassionate but isn’t afraid to draw the line when someone starts to cross it. She’s got a great personality and it blends well with the variety of different characters at work here. Meeko Gattuso is great as Pitt, bringing a nice theme of judgement and pre-conceptions muddled in societal expectations along with his strong, sweet personality. Again it’s not something that’s brand new but the two build a nice chemistry. Oberon K.A. Adjepong brings a very classic father character, bull-headed and old-fashioned, clashing relentlessly with Sarah and imposing himself in her life.

Queen of Glory is funny and charming, bringing an intensely relatable tone and familiar story with a new edge. However, it does fall on the predictable side and trips over some clichés along the way. The story changes things up by bringing a new perspective and Mensah’s direction has some interesting turns. It’s a debut feature with a bundle of potential and viewers should hotly anticipate whatever’s next for Nana Mensah.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Coming to UK cinemas on 26 August

Reviewed as part of London Film Festival 2021

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