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film review

Malin Buska (right) – the Swedish Kirsten Dunst? – is highly watchable as the Descartes-loving ruler, but Canada’s Sarah Gadon as the sheet-warming lady-in-waiting is given little to do but look naive and dumbstruck in The Girl King.

Where Joan of Arc was executed by burning, Sweden's 17th-century tomboy Queen Christina suffered a much more horrific fate, that of being mansplained off the throne. "Your ideas are expensive," she was told, "and peace doesn't fill our coffers." Centuries later, we have a sumptuous-looking biopic on the maverick monarch from Mika Kaurismaki, a director who focuses his attention on the Sapphic preoccupations of the "virgin queen," often to cheesy effect. Malin Buska – the Swedish Kirsten Dunst? – is highly watchable as the Descartes-loving ruler, but Canada's Sarah Gadon as the sheet-warming lady-in-waiting is given little to do but look naive and dumbstruck. At one point, the Queen tries to address the peasants on a political level, only to be told by her male adviser to offer them beer instead. She had misread her audience, as has the scriptwriter, who offers melodrama on a historical figure worthy of something meatier.