Prince Harming, 2019.
Written and Directed by Marianne Hettinger.
Starring Andreas Beckett, Marianne Hettinger, Deborah S Craig, Martin Evans and Jillie Simon.
Victoria (Marianne Hettinger) meets Max (Andreas Beckett) who is a famous Olympian skier on the slide. He moves in quickly and soon there is talk of marriage just before things turn sour.
This stripped back indie fable centred on domestic abuse, toxic relationships and female empowerment takes its time. Self-funded in part by director, producer and cast member Marianne Hettinger it feels European despite the stateside setting. Dialogue exchanges are relaxed, locations unpolished and it leans into obvious production constraints which some might construe as drawbacks.
Andreas Beckett and Hettinger work hard to make the chemistry work between them as that is essential to everything else. Location shooting around New York, loose scene set ups and a sense of on the hoof construction means Prince Harming has inconsistencies. Acoustics and the sound mix are sometimes distracting during dialogue heavy scenes, while emotional confrontations occasionally feel forced.
However where Hettinger succeeds is in her approach to some clearly personal themes. There are moments of universal identification as Beckett goes from charming to repulsively controlling and she handles these with care. Relationships are delicate things and require work which is something some people forget. Imbalance is easy to spot from a distance but for those entrenched in such partnerships the warning signs are less obvious. Stark illustrations of personal dominance darken the latter stages of this film, providing bleak moments of catharsis as she purges this from her system.
However, that is the point for Hettinger who uses this as a form of visual therapy which at times makes Prince Harming feel self-indulgent. Certain elements are theatrical in construction and the artifice is apparent, but this only distracts on occasion. Hettinger makes it feel intentionally intrusive especially during the intimate moments, while the camera lingers uncomfortably close throughout leading Prince Harming voyeuristic undertones.
This film might not be for everyone because few like to be faced with their failings. We have all been in relationships which ended in separation, maybe not with overbearing partners but we all know when things are not working. Prince Harming is a rallying cry for those who got out from under, while it is a gentle reminder for so many more who never found the strength.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★