Movie Review: Queen of the Desert

Queen of the Desert tells the story of Gertrude Bell, portrayed commendably by Nicole Kidman. Bell was a woman ahead of her time who, in order to escape the rigid life of early 20th century England traveled to Tehran. During her travels in the Middle East, Bell crossed paths with T.E. Lawrence, played by Robert Pattinson and led to not one but two passionate love affairs with British officers. The film mostly explores Bell’s adventures, but also lightly touches on the role she would go on to play as a British representative in the Middle East.

Queen of the Desert

I so desperately wanted to enjoy this film. Biopics are among my favorite genre of films, so I went in which high hopes. Unfortunately, I left disappointed. While a truly beautiful film, it slogs and doesn’t really do much. You could probably get the same effect from watching a scrolling slide show of desert landscapes. That being said there were a few shining moments.

Nicole Kidman proves, once again, that she is a good actor. Her performance was a standout star in a sea of drab. Anytime Kidman is on screen and actually interacting with other characters she is stellar. However, most of the film only afford the viewer her voice over sweeping, long scenes of the desert. Another surprising standout was Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of T.E. Lawrence. Pattinson did a good job at adding nuance to a character that could have easily been over-acted. So, effectively, Queen of the Desert serves up proof that given good material, Pattinson can actually act.

Queen of the Desert

Gertrude Bell lived a rather extraordinary life and Queen of the Desert fails to capture even an iota of the passion that she had. She is reduced to a prop in a film about her surroundings. The film lacks a distinct point of view which is unfortunate because Bell’s life and writing provide the perfect point of view for a truly wonderful film. It feels as if director Werner Herzog was given a firecracker and couldn’t figure out how to light it.

Reason to See:

It’s pretty.

Reason to Skip:

It is long, slow and lacking a cohesive plot.

Is Queen of the Desert Worth the Price of a Ticket?

No. While it does provide some insight into Gertrude Bell’s life, it is not worth seeing in a theater.




Queen of the Desert Trailer


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