I’m just checking in to offer a few of my thoughts on Act IV of Cameron Cloutier’s Twin Peaks fan film, Queen of Hearts. And also to try to get “Groove is in the Heart” out of my head.
This one took us to a number of places and in a number of directions and a real deep-dive into the mythology of Annie Blackburn.
Can I say for starters that the Black Lodge sequences were absolutely nailed? It’s a real credit to Cameron that he has got this aspect of things so right. It’s not a copy; it’s not a simple homage. It just leans into the feel of the place and gets acquainted. As a result, it honestly feels like these parts could be canonical. It’s wonderful when you see someone’s obvious love for the source material show through in the care they take over the small details. He’s matched (unconsciously or not, I’m not sure) the camera angles in the lodge that we had in the original show. The entrance shots through curtains, the corridors, the rooms, it all looks and feels technically on point. It also delivers on the bizarre and disjointed nature of the place. Bravo.
In terms of the technical parts, about which I don’t claim to be an expert, I have to say that bits of this are beautiful to look at. Just little incidental shots like this…
they’re lit beautifully and conjure comparison with other Lynch works – this shot reminds me so much of Lynch’s work, it’s uncanny. It really is wonderfully put together.
As I said, we get a deep dive into Annie Blackburn.
Let me tell you folks; that’s not a beautiful coral reef but a sewer tunnel full of the most loathsome people you could be unfortunate enough to meet. Credit to the actors and director for bringing this across so well. If these were the people I lived with, I’d be taking a blade to my arms too! I’ve only read the Final Dossier once and I didn’t gel with it the way I did with Secret History, so I don’t remember that much about her story. I remember bits and pieces but it was all vague so I was trying to second guess whether these people were actually as horrible as they were turning out to be.
First off, we have the abusive stepfather, Roland, played by Harris Warren. “Let me see you without the sweater.” Oh my God, he literally made my skin crawl. Well done sir, your delivery was amazing.
He can’t compete with the boyfriend, Aaron, played by Rayce Lopez. I knew as soon as I saw the sweater around his shoulders that the guy was a tool. Sure enough, he refused to help his long term girlfriend after she was assaulted by Roland. “Maybe I should switch my strategy and then I’d get somewhere with you.” – Skin crawling hard once more!
Neither of these two wonderful examples of humanity can come anywhere close to the winner however. Good ol’ Vivien! Even when she’s saying nice things to Annie, she sounds evil. She plays it like the word ‘whore’ is going to come out of her mouth any second. Again, a round of applause for Phyllis Davis in that role.
In amongst all this Annie-ness, we also get the payoff from the Coop and Caroline story – our Dale comes downstairs (followed in a lovely smooth tracking shot down the stairs which must have been nerve wracking for the person carrying the camera) to find his love stabbed through the aorta and dead on the rug.
He’s then attacked in a lovely backwards piece of movement by Windom. it makes his movements look so freaky; I remember this from doing the haiku videos. All that moving backwards comes across looking very strange indeed.
There’s genuine emotion running throughout and it’s well-matched to the soundtrack.
Speaking of the soundtrack, I have to say that something here took me completely out of the proceedings. It’s not Cameron’s fault – it’s entirely mine and it’s not the first time it’s happened while watching Queen of Hearts. Cameron, please don’t read any criticism into this as it’s all my issue and just something I find funny.
There are some wonderful examples of classical music and opera being used in TV and film to carry emotional weight and lead narrative in high drama situations. Take Giles’ discovery of Jenny Calendar on Buffy, all set to Puccini’s O Soave Fanciulla from La Boheme. It works wonders and really gut punches you. The timing is right there when he gets to the bedroom door.
The scene where Cooper finds Caroline was timed exquisitely with the music. I’m afraid, though, that for an Englishman of a certain age, any rendition of Nessun Dorma can only ever be associated with one image!
That’s right – Italia ’90. Sorry, but it’s burned into our national consciousness and I was removed to my 14 year old self. Not completely away from things as that is around the time I saw Twin peaks for the first time anyway. What’s funny is that we’ve already had one England football anthem in Queen of Hearts. Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline has become something of an unofficial anthem for the England football team and that really stopped me in my tracks when I heard it in a previous instalment. It had me wondering if I should expect to hear Glenn and Chris doing Diamond Lights or Fat Les and Keith Allen singing Vindaloo in the grand finale! All that said, it’s funny how your own associations can determine how you respond to a certain scene.
Despite the football references, it is great how the applause is left in at the end of the performance and this blends perfectly into the lodge scene that follows with Windom and Annie.
On another note, this picture on the Blackburn’s wall made me laugh as I thought it was this one and had to do a double take.
Final thoughts: a wonderful addition to the story, with some exceptionally good visuals and a great style. Emotional in all the right ways and a weighty look at Annie’s vulnerable past and her dangerous present. Roll on Act V.
Cheers for reading