Queen of Diamonds
13 Jun 2022
Carlotta Banat, Omar Khan, Selorm Adonu
They say breaking up is hard to do. But if you’re going to do it, the emotional and thought-provoking one presented in Queen of Diamonds certainly beats doing it by text…
Paula (Carlotta Banat) and Ali (Omar Khan) meet atop of Greenwich Hill to conclude the breaking-up of their failing relationship. Together since uni, the pair have experienced the highs and lows of young love. But after noticing cracks, they have one last conversation to seek closure as the sun sets.
Queen of Diamonds is a short film that focuses on the end of love, and the emotional strain put upon both halves of a relationship when things must come to a finish. Details of the break-up itself are scarce and only hinted at, with much of the conversation seen in the film focusing on relationships as a whole - and how the differences throughout can cause the slow death experienced by the protagonists as people start to grow into who they are meant to be, and who they are meant to be with.
Pain and separation are therefore key themes for the film, which comes with a message that despite how difficult breakups and the ending of relationships can be, the positive experiences people receive will ultimately change us – and it is us as individuals to decide if this is for the better. Paula and Ali both reminisce over the good times as much as they are triggered by the bad, and their participation in what is made clear to be a difficult and painful conversation shows the maturity that each has gifted to the other.
Shehroze Khan and writer/star Omar Khan have impressively formulated two natural and authentic characters, whose shared history pulsates from their dialogue with each other. What is at first an awkward exchange of pleasantries ignites upon the highlighting of negatives and disputes the pair share – as the film really kicks into gear and demands the audience’s attention. This gives way to true reconciliation and the begins of an understanding – for a melancholy ending that fully earns the emotions it attaches. The uncomfortable yet warming, difficult yet nostalgic exchange brilliantly captures the complexity of the subject matter – and will touch on very real feelings and memories of viewers.
Both Carlotta Banat and Omar Khan perform well in the leading roles – Banat as the more sombre and serious Paula and Khan as the affable and brave-faced Ali. A sense is imbued that this is a Paula-driven break-up by her determined manner – but Banat leaves enough anguish in the character to show that this is not a decision she has taken lightly. Khan meanwhile is quick to bring some light relief to an experience that Ali may not be fully ready for – in a way that demonstrates his charm but is also shown to be a cause for why things have not worked out. The only knock on either performance is that we don’t really get a sense of time around the relationship to really emphasise how long the pair have been together – but viewers will sympathize nonetheless.
For a short, lower budget concept film, Queen of Diamonds taps into some unexpectedly deep emotional territory with an incredibly simplistic and minimalist idea. Add in two strong performances and a perfect setting, and you have a very accomplished feature. Maybe just give it a miss if you’re not past the ‘eating tubs of ice-cream crying’ phase…