Review: 'Queen (aka Królowa)'

Post by: Rick Ellis 25 July, 2022

One of the things I love most about watching television produced outside North America is the sense of surprise. I'm often being exposed to actors for the first time and in most cases, I don't know much about the show itself. We may live in a world of global television, but PR efforts tend to still be primarily regional. So while I was loosely familiar with the career of Andrzej Seweryn (the Netflix crime thriller The MireSchindler’s ListThe King of WarsawThe Last Family) and Maria Peszek (the Netflix series Cracow Monsters), I had no idea what to expect from there here.

And honestly, sometimes it's a delight to turn on some show with no preconceived notions about what I'll see. And then find myself transported into a world that is unfamiliar and yet still magical.

Queen (aka Królowa) is a new original series from Netflix that was produced in Poland and at least here in the U.S., it dropped onto the service without much notice. Which is a shame, because this four-part series written by Kacper Wysocki and directed by Łukasz Kośmicki (The Coldest Game and The Dark House) is an absolute delight.

Andrzej Seweryn stars as Sylwester Borkowski, a Parisian tailor who has world-class reputation. But for all of that talent, he also has another life as the famed Parisian drag Queen Loretta. Both Sylwester and Loretta have decided to retire and it is his dream to move to the south of France and retire. But as he prepares to do so, he receives a letter from an Iza Nowak (Julia Chętnicka), who turns out to be the granddaughter he never knew existed.

She lives in Sylwester's hometown back in Poland and it turns out that he left Poland for Paris when Iza's grandmother was pregnant with her. He's never met his daughter Wiola Nowak (Maria Peszek) and never had any desire to do so. But Iza asks him to return because Wiola needs a kidney and she hopes Sylwester is a match and will return to donate one of his to his daughter.

Maybe it's his age or a feeling of loss and nostalgia. But Sylwester decides to return to his Polish hometown, which is a rough-scrabble mining town that both economically and culturally is as far removed as you can imagine from the sophisticated streets of Paris.

Without giving too much away, everyone goes through the angsts and anger that you would expect from the situation. But before you have the chance to decide the story is playing out as you would have predicted, there is a mining accident in town. And what happens after that sends Queen off in an entirely unexpected direction. Leading into a fourth episode which provides some really hilarious moments.

There is a type of European show that really resonates with American audiences. It's that gentle slice-of-life comedy that isn't flashy or especially suspenseful. But watching it is like mentally wrapping yourself up in a warm blanket on a blustery winter night. It's comforting and satisfying for the soul in a way that I suspect most of us need at this point in 2022. Yes, there are culture clashes, but no one is belittled or degraded. These are just well-meaning people, doing the best they can and I loved them all for trying.

I didn't know what to expect when I decided to sample Queen but I'm glad I did.

It's a sweet ray of sunshine that took to me some unexpected places.

Queen premiered June 23rd, 2022 on Netflix.

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Last modified on Monday, 25 July 2022 01:23