THE GIRL KING – Review by Susan Granger

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Legendary Greta Garbo was the first on-screen “Queen Christina” (1933), ruling Sweden in the middle of the 17th century and stunning Europe by abdicating her throne. Now, Finnish director Mika Kaurismaki attempts to explain her defiant actions, tying into her sexuality and feminist empowerment in this perhaps overly literal biopic. Ascending to the throne as Queen-elect at the age of six, young tomboy Kristina was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolf (Samuli Edelmann) and his mentally unstable German Queen Maria Eleonora (Martina Gedeck). Raised to rule by Chancellor Alex Oxenstierna (Michael Nyqvist), she officially became Queen at age 18 in 1644. Read on…

Passionate about the arts and devoted to the writings of French philosopher Rene Descartes (Patrick Bauchau), Queen Kristina is determined to bring European culture and sophistication to Sweden. Known as the Minerva of the North, she pursues peace, signing the Treaty of Westphalia, ending the Thirty Years War.

Baffling and infuriating her austere courtiers, the androgynous Queen enjoys wielding a sword, prefers dressing like a man and spurns suitors who wish to marry her. Instead, she becomes infatuated with bubbly blonde Countess Ebba Sparre (Sarah Gadon), who becomes her official “bedfellow.”

The subsequent scandal erupting from their lesbian liaison turns the capricious Queen against conservative Lutheranism. Accepting an invitation from the Pope, she becomes a permanent guest of the Holy See. Pope Alexander VIII once described her as “a queen without a realm, a Christian without faith, and a woman without shame.”

Her palace, the Riario, now the Corsini, on the Lungaria in Rome, became the meeting place of scholars and musicians, containing the greatest collection of Venetian painters every assembled. Queen Kristina is one of only three women buried in the Vatican.

While Swedish actress Malin Burska embodies courageous, un-compromising Kristina, she’s hampered by Michel Marc Bouchard’s melodramatic script, which was written in French and haltingly translated into English by Linda Gaboriau.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Girl King” is a sexually-charged 6, blending geo-politics with a transgender dilemma.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.