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Queen of Glory review – gloriously low-key comedy of immigrant life | Film

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This indie comedy from actor-turned-director Nana Mensah has been sweetly described as a love letter to immigrant daughters. Her story – about a second-generation Ghanaian-American woman, the obligations she feels to her family, and their expectations – feels familiar, but never “Hollywood-ified”. Mensah stars herself, uses her real-life parents’ Christian bookshop in the Bronx as a location, and casts her aunt in a supporting role. It’s all impressively pulled off on what looks like a budget of Blu Tack and sticky tape.

Mensah is Sarah, a lecturer and PhD student in the neuro-oncology department at Columbia University. When her mum dies suddenly, Sarah takes the subway back to the Bronx. She’s an only child and her dad (Oberon K A Adjepong) – long separated but not divorced from her mum – flies back from Accra. Parked on the sofa watching Arsenal matches, he expects to be waited on hand and foot. Sarah’s work is quite literally curing cancer, but the only question anyone in her family is asking is when is she going to start making babies.

There’s such intelligence and subtlety in Mensah’s script and performance as she weaves in her ideas and frustrations, and yet the film is never “about” these things – it’s a funny and emotionally satisfying comedy. Sarah organises a wake for her mum, then the traditional Ghanaian ceremony. Her plan is to close down the bookshop her mum owned. But the more time she spends there the worse she feels about that decision. The place is a neighbourhood institution, and its sole employee – a mellow weed-smoking ex-con called Pitt (Meeko Gattuso) – really needs the job.

A story of grief and family healing is nothing new, but everything here is fresh – partly because this world feels so entirely authentic. There are snippets of archive footage from Ghana, acting almost like the memories of Sarah’s parents’ generation. For such a slender film –just 78 minutes long – it delivers more than it promises.

Queen of Glory is released on 26 August in cinemas.


This indie comedy from actor-turned-director Nana Mensah has been sweetly described as a love letter to immigrant daughters. Her story – about a second-generation Ghanaian-American woman, the obligations she feels to her family, and their expectations – feels familiar, but never “Hollywood-ified”. Mensah stars herself, uses her real-life parents’ Christian bookshop in the Bronx as a location, and casts her aunt in a supporting role. It’s all impressively pulled off on what looks like a budget of Blu Tack and sticky tape.

Mensah is Sarah, a lecturer and PhD student in the neuro-oncology department at Columbia University. When her mum dies suddenly, Sarah takes the subway back to the Bronx. She’s an only child and her dad (Oberon K A Adjepong) – long separated but not divorced from her mum – flies back from Accra. Parked on the sofa watching Arsenal matches, he expects to be waited on hand and foot. Sarah’s work is quite literally curing cancer, but the only question anyone in her family is asking is when is she going to start making babies.

There’s such intelligence and subtlety in Mensah’s script and performance as she weaves in her ideas and frustrations, and yet the film is never “about” these things – it’s a funny and emotionally satisfying comedy. Sarah organises a wake for her mum, then the traditional Ghanaian ceremony. Her plan is to close down the bookshop her mum owned. But the more time she spends there the worse she feels about that decision. The place is a neighbourhood institution, and its sole employee – a mellow weed-smoking ex-con called Pitt (Meeko Gattuso) – really needs the job.

A story of grief and family healing is nothing new, but everything here is fresh – partly because this world feels so entirely authentic. There are snippets of archive footage from Ghana, acting almost like the memories of Sarah’s parents’ generation. For such a slender film –just 78 minutes long – it delivers more than it promises.

Queen of Glory is released on 26 August in cinemas.

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