Queen of the Desert: Herzog’s Worst Film? Starring Nicole Kidman and James Franco

Werner Herzog, the iconic German director who revitalized the New German Cinema in the 197os and has made some of the most powerful features of the past four decades (both fictin and non-fictional), has arguably made his worst film to date with Queen of the Desert.
The film’s title might suggest a campy movie, but it’s actually dead serious (emphasis on dead) tale, inspired by real life characters and events about a British woman who defied the mores and conventions of her times when she encountered the culture of the Middle East.
Nicole Kidman plays Gertrude Bell, a young femme who rebels against the stifling and rigid life in turn-of-the-century England, leaving it behind to travel to Tehran.
She begins a lifelong adventure across the Arab world, a journey marked by danger, a passionate affair with a British officer (James Franco), and an encounter with the legendary T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson).
Shot on location in Morocco and Jordan, Queen of the Desert is meant to illuminate the life of a woman who was ahead-of-her-times.
Instead, what we get on screen is a muddled mess of a feature that is not convincing or compelling on any level, wasting the talents of a major director and three gifted actors.
James Franco is a talented actor but the one thing he has always lacked is erotic appeal.  In this film, he is utterly miscast, and his romantic scenes with Kidman are painful to watch due to the lack of chemistry between the two.
IFC released the film in limited mode in April 2017, but not many viewers saw it after it was panned by most critics.
I hope that it will not damage the Oscar prospects of James Franco, who renders a terrific performance in the zany biopic, The Disaster Artist.
Running time: 127 Minutes