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.