VFFOnline 2021: Reaching for the Stars, Not Mars in Queen of the Andes

2 Feb

Queen of the Andes - IMDb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Streaming Online
at the Victoria Film Festival
Get your pass here to view beginning Feb 5th, 2021

Note: Available to view for residents in British Columbia

If Leonardo DiCaprio can stand at the bow of a ship and proclaim he’s the King of the World, then so can Bhreagh MacNeil climb the highest mountain and announce she’s Queen of the Andes. Technically, a plant bearing this name exists in Peru and its lifecycle is unique. It doesn’t flower until they are about 80 – 100 years old.

MacNeil plays a bright scientist, Pillar, who has ideas on how to help society at home. She’s even proposed a means to end world hunger, and a few people are ready to take notice. The performance from this actress is strong. She’s questioning why she was selected to take part in Canada’s quest to get into Space. She feels she can do more at home, on planet Earth, with her discovery and to decide on which career to take part in is tough.

This future ‘what if’ scenario is more about civil rights—to which it succeeds in exploring—than complete science fiction. The privately funded Space Program seen in this film is not all that rosy. However, its borderline tones of conspiracy made this watch to the end a must.

In what makes this tale by writer/director Jillian Acreman engaging is the character study from the perspective of one career individual on why liberty matters. It also points out a few things about our own Mars One program doesn’t fully address. Thankfully, the big difference here is on how astronauts are recruited–interested individuals have to apply! Pillar was selected and she has aspects to her life to which she doesn’t want to leave behind.

Unlike being able to head to the moon and coming back, the difference is with how much of the experience can affect the psyche. Conspiracy nuts went wild by alleging Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin weren’t the same after their walk on the moon. This movie deals with why not everyone is excited about various agencies desire to return to space. A few ideas may well be taken  from H.G. Wells‘ novella, The Shape of Things to Come. The shifting of ideologies and marxist attitudes may well drive part of why these private enterprises are planning humanity’s return to space than NASA (though they are credited to helping).

As for whether Pillar can escape her fate, to reveal too much of the latter half would be telling.

4 Stars out of 5

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