First made famous, cinematically-speaking, by Greta Garbo in director Rouben Mamoulian’s 1934 film release of Queen Christina, Kaurismäki’s production does not have the same studio restraints of the 1930s and is able to more fully explore both the cunning nature of this monarch’s rule and her sexual orientation.
The title, The Girl King, is no accident. History records that Queen Christina learned quickly about the control and use of power … she had to walk a fine line between representing her Protestant-leaning population and her underlying loyalty to Rome. Further, marriage of convenience and political alliance was the norm of the day, which she rejected time and again.
Sex and religion, these are the things that could get a monarch murdered.
Swedish actress Malin Buska (as was Garbo) plays Christina as the young woman on the throne. She has been educated by her court advisers — her father dead; her mother insane — to handle herself in both the ways of the court (the political intrigues) as well as being schooled in the fighting and riding skills of any man of the day.
She also has her eye on Ebba Sparre (played by Sarah Gadon — Maps to the Stars, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, etc.) and their relationship proves to be as passionate as it is doomed.
The Girl King, beautifully unfolds as both a love story and as political action thiller. It is an accurate retelling of the life and loves of this Northern Renaissance woman; a woman of letters, a lover and a queen. Those who have marveled at the 1934 film and Garbo’s perfomance, will be well-served to catch filmmaker Mika Kaurismäki’s The Girl King … Malin Buska more than holds her own.