Queen of the Desert

There is a lot to appreciate in this film, such as the cinematography which beautifully captures the desert, but the film is also painfully slow-paced and too long. Based on the true story of English explorer, writer, cartographer and archaeologist Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman), Queen of the Desert chronicles her life, including her influential work in the Middle East and her romances (because apparently a story about an extraordinary woman's political achievements must also include details of her love life if people are going to have any interest in watching it). There is no doubt Bell was an amazing person, but unfortunately, the film fails to capture the essence of her accomplishments. There are a lot of scenes of Bell meeting Arab leaders, but we do not see details about those discussions and how she was able to win people over. The film oversimplifies diplomatic relations as something that can be achieved with a meal and the exchanging of gifts. That being said, Kidman is wonderful at depicting Bell's stubborn strength of character. I would not necessarily have picked James Franco as a potential love interest for her, but their chemistry is surprisingly good. Robert Pattinson is also impressive as a young T. E. Lawrence and it was great to see Middle Eastern and Moroccan actors playing many of the Arab roles. Writer/director Werner Herzog has certainly made an ambitious film, but it does not hit every mark.