THE GIRL KING  (2015)

ROLE: Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna

GENRE: Historical drama

COUNTRY: Finland, Sweden, Germany & Canada

PREMIERE: Montreal Film Festival - 09/04/15

 
Synopsis

Kristina is the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolf  and his German wife Maria Eleonora. As a 6-year-old tomboy, Kristina succeeds her late father on the throne, and begins officially ruling Sweden at 18. Defying the will of her closest advisor, Chancellor Axel Von Oxenstierna, she immediately begins pressing for peace in the bloody Thirty Years’ War, which has divided Europe into Catholic and Protestant factions.

A passionate scholar and patron of the arts, Kristina dreams of making Sweden a shining beacon of culture and progressive ideas. She invites great painters and thinkers to her Stockholm court, including the French philosopher Rene Descartes. She also sets tongues wagging by cross-dressing in manly clothes, refusing to marry and pursuing a lesbian love affair with a beautiful young countess called Ebba Sparre. Gossip about Kristina’s sexuality, and her growing drift towards Catholicism, become crucial weapons when her enemies begin conspiring against her.

 
Film Details

Malin Buska - Queen Kristina
Sarah Gadon - Countess Ebba Sparre
 Michael Nyqvist - Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna
Lucas Bryant - Count Johan Oxenstierna
 Laura Birn - Countess Erika Erksein
 Hippolyte Girardot - Ambassador Pierre Hector Chanut
 Peter Lohmeyer - Bishop Of Stockholm
 François Arnaud - Karl Gustav Kasimir
Patrick Bauchau - René Descartes
 Ville Virtanen - Doctor Van Wullen
Martina Gedeck - Maria Eleonora

* * * * *

Director - Mika Kaurismäki
Screenplay - Michel Marc Bouchard
Cinematography - Guy Dufaux
Music - Anssi Tikanmäki
Costume Design - Marjatta Nissinen

106 minutes

View trailer

 
Production Notes & Photos

Principal photography began on February 11, 2014 in Turku. Filming took place in Sweden, Finland and Germany. The three photos below were actually taken on February 11th at Turku City Hall. The first one shows the film's female stars - Laura Birn (left), Malin Buska and Sarah Gado.

"The Girl King" is not the first film made on the controversial Queen Kristina. Besides several stage productions, the most famous was Greta Garbo’s portrayal in Rouben Mamoulian’s 1933 classic "Queen Christina".

Director Mika Kaurismäki: "This is not intended as a traditional epic costume film. This is the psychological human story of a revolutionary thinker, a connoisseur of art and science, a precursor to the feminist movement, a strong and visionary politician, a new European."

Michael:  "Mika is so experienced that he can afford to listen to the actor. With him, the actor is in safe hands and every day it was nice to go to work. Mika is also very inspirational."
 

 
Awards & Nominations

Canadian Screen Awards 2017: Nominated for Costume Design - Marjatta Nissinen

Jussi Awards 2016: Won Best Costume Design - Marjatta Nissinen

Montréal World Film Festival 2015: Won Best Actress - Malin Buska and Most Popular Feature Film - Mika Kaurismäki

Watch 10-minute documentary on costumes at youtube.

 
Publicity Stills
 
Film Comments

"Lead Malin Buska carefully balances Kristina's youthful intellectual ambitions and emotional confusions. Her intensity provides a character who is not satisfied with her country's Lutheran limitations, but seeks to understand and use her emotions as much as she submits to them. Nyqvist is similarly solid as a mentor who gradually becomes less helpful to Kristina despite his caring for her."   ...Jordan Adcock, Cinevue

 "It is, in short, a film embodied in eloquent and well-worked images, where, as you may repeat, the magnificent performance of its young protagonist reigns supreme." ...Lluís Bonet Mojica, La Vanguardia

"Montreal celebrity Francois Arnaud is credible in his short role as the eventual heir to Kristina’s throne, while Michael Nyqvist as the Chancellor stands up to Buska’s domination of pretty much every frame of the film."   ...Sinj Karan, Montrealrampage.com

"'The Girl King' captures that sharp and defiant spirit...with a fiery and impassioned performance from the lion-like Swedish actress Malin Buska."   ...Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times

"Buska is acceptable in the lead, sometimes underplaying too much but just about managing to come across regal and smitten when required. There’s steady support from Sarah Gadon as Countess Ebba Sparre, her forbidden love interest, and Michael Nyqvist as Chancellor Oxenstierna who treats her like a daughter but comes with his own agenda." ...Stephen Mane, culturefly.co.uk

"Michael Nyqvist warms like a fatherly Axel Oxenstierna. Otherwise, the men - both the young men and the old men - are pale beside Buska's colorful Kristina. She is, on the other hand, worth seeing in every vibrating moment."    ...Bernt Eklund, Expressen

"'The Girl King' is beautiful… the chemistry between the two women is spot on."    ...AfterEllen.com

"A steamy and sumptuous period piece… this romantic re-imagining doesn’t flinch as the queer queen invites her beautiful handmaiden to be her 'bed-warmer' and refuses to don dresses or marry."  ...OutMagazine.com

"There’s more than enough drama, complexity and speculative intrigue in the single decade of Christina’s adult reign to sustain an epic miniseries… The primary focus here is on the monarch’s passionate devotion to lady-in-waiting Countess Ebba Sparre, whose status becomes a matter of bawdy public rumor even before Christina appoints her official 'bedfellow'"   ...Variety

"An aesthetically elevated, melodramatic queen biography that is faithful to its theme of female liberation...  Mika Kaurismäki has done a pretty nice historical spectacle with fancy costumes, ripping on frustrating horses and intrigues in luminously illuminated castle corridors."   ...Mattias Oscarsson, Sydsvenskan.se

"As a whole, it is an interesting and sometimes real-moving drama made by Mika Kaurismäki. Not objectionable but original and refreshing."   ...Björn G Stenberg, unt.se

"At times, 'The Girl King' is a traditional epic with beautiful period costumes, cavalcades and sword fights…What breaks the mold is the character of Christina, her aplomb, her very masculine energy, her tomboy outfits, her intellectual curiosity, her exchanges with Descartes and the fact that her bold, challenging thinking is actually the heart of the story and in the middle of the screen."  ...La Presse

“Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki’s take on Kristina’s real-life story is lush and energetic and boasts a standout performance from Malin Buska, who plays the tomboy Queen with such a high level of intensity that you half expect her to jump through the screen so she can chew you up and spit you out."   ...Film Journal International

"'The Girl King' is a worthy effort and will well be remembered as one of Maki Kaurismaki’s better films."  ...Gilbert Seah, Festivalreviews.org