REVIEW | The Girl King (2016)

Based on the real-life Queen Christina of 17th-century Sweden, the multinational-produced The Girl King focuses on the queen's compelling character: intellectual, rebellious, passionate about art, philosophy, religion—and women. She thrives on Descartes's manuscripts, seeking to understand—or justify—her lust for one of her ladys-in-waiting, Countess Ebba Sparre (Sarah Gadon).

Malin Buska as Christina is bizarrely cartoonish in her role, unblinking, robotic in her speech, and enjoys skipping around inside her tiny claustrophobic residence, like someone who has stepped out of a horror flick. She seems loony instead of eccentric, a horror character rather than a deeply intellectual and unconventional woman. 

The core of the film is the romance between the Queen and Ebba, and the scandal it causes in the castle. Christina, though, behaves like a predator rather than someone in love, which only escalates her creepy vibes. Sparre, on the other hand, although expressive, you are not sure if she's just flattered or simply sympathetic to the queer Queen.

The dialogue feels forced, the production design is sad, and the music melodramatic, and so you cannot experience pleasure in any sense. Directed by Mika Kaurismäki, The Girl King feels like a condensed TV movie; a depthless soap opera that banks on histrionics, sadly wasting a rich material on a fascinating historical figure.  It is the film's silent epilogue, the few texts onscreen, that will actually compel you to read more about the life of the Girl King.

2 out of 5 stars
Opens June 1, 2016 in Philippine cinemas, rated R-16 uncut by the MTRCB


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