PhD candidate Sarah (Mensah) sees her young adult life opening up before her. She’s successful in academia – a place she has forged her own path away from her Ghanian, and very Christian, immigrant family. Her boyfriend has taken a prestigious new academic position in Ohio, and she dreams of starting a new life with him away from New York City – she shows her apartment to new potential inhabitants before he has even finalised his divorce from his wife. But when Sarah’s mother dies suddenly, she finds herself back in the Bronx, the administrator of her affairs and the (happily atheist) inheritor of a Christian bookstore.

Queen of Glory is a confident, vibrant debut from writer, director, and star Mensah. The plot often veers towards the most predictable beats; the youthful assuredness in the face of obvious red flags and large life changes goes precisely where expected, as does a budding alliance with an ex-con who runs her deceased mother’s bookstore (the film’s most surprising, and rewarding, feature). 

But the dialogue sparkles in both quieter moments and boisterous, chaotic group scenes. The latter always prove the film’s highlights – especially when involving Sarah’s Russian immigrant friends, whose experience in the Bronx is not as different as that of the Ghanians. But the quieter moments are where the absurdity – and equal profundity – of family, culture, and tradition blossom. The camera, and the questions Sarah gives and receives, are gentle and probing. The nuance in these spaces highlights the beauties and oppressions on both sides of Sarah’s life – and even if the story does not surprise, it is a beautiful ride. 

Queen of Glory celebrates independence and new beginnings while wryly acknowledging the impossibility of ever escaping one’s roots. Indeed, to escape them, with their quirks and annoyances, entirely seems like the greater loss. 



CAST: Nana Mensah, Anya Migdal, Ward Horton

DIRECTOR: Nana Mensah

WRITER: Nana Mensah

SYNOPSIS: When her mother passes away unexpectedly, a PhD student is surprised to find herself the owner of a Christian bookstore.