There are turning and toiling movies surrounding royalty and aristocracy. In fact, a large chunk of the British film industry comes from pilfering the history of our monarchy. The fascination with families and marriages that would rule a kingdom and live in the utmost luxury will populate our cinematic history as long as we fantasize about princesses and kingdoms far, far away.
Of course, if you were to know the history of Queens and madams of royalty, you’ll know that their history is much graver than Disney could ever portray. Their womanhood, though adorned with jewellery is a scary and grief-stricken one.
Meet Sweden’s vivacious, independent, and strong-willed woman.
The Girl King is the biographical drama revolving around Christina, Queen of Sweden. Directed by Mika Kaurismaki and based on a play by Michael Marc Bouchard, the film revolves around the rambunctious Queen who was an educated woman, pouring over books, manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures. Moody but intelligent, she caused scandal when she refused to marry, and became the figurehead for a theatrical and musical movement. When she comes across Countess Ebba Sparre, the pair fall in love and the scandal causes ripples across Sweden.
The queer storyline and eloquent performances by Malin Buska and Sarah Gadon allow the sublime beautifulness of their love to pepper this sometimes bland work. Buska is particularly ravishing as Christina. The headstrong nature of the royal figure who is compounded in her intellect and exploration of art is embodied in the sensational work that Buska invokes. Through her delicate handling of the Queen and her sexuality unravelling, Buska is an indelible feature on this production; soulful, passionate, and imbued with the hot-headedness that the actual Queen once encompassed. Helped by Gadon to allow the poetic and sexually evocative relationship to burn on screen, the pair put in incredible performances that should hopefully propel them as an important actresses. Especially as their electricity comes through.
The biggest problem with Kaurismaki’s work, as is with other period dramas, is the drawling time and the opulence in place of narrative meaning. There is a lot of chaotic elements here trying to find a voice. Between war and ruling, The Girl King loses footing and teeters into dullness. What you want is more time to evolve with her. Instead, you are blighted with a truncated version of her story that is squeezed into a feature length. One has to imagine that a story such as Christina’s would’ve worked best in a television drama to embellish her in the true glory of her being.
This lacking somewhat blights the overall story but it isn’t too detrimental to the film. True, there is more you’d wish the movie would explore and the nagging frustration that you couldn’t spend more time with Christina sticks with you. But no matter how short the narrative is, The Girl King is helmed by glorious performances and a stunning chemistry filled pairing that will enthrall you until the very end. Not the best period drama, but an exquisite one nonetheless. After all, this is a tale of an independent women at the forefront of artistic expression and in love with a woman – what more do you want from the film?
THE GIRL KING IS OUT IN CINEMAS 17th JUNE