Opening 21 Jul 2016
This film is about one of the most extraordinary members of the European monarchy and a woman well ahead of her times: Queen Kristina Wasa of Sweden (1626--1689). Two years after Sweden entered the Thirty Years’ War on the side of the Protestants, her father King Gustav II. Adolf falls, and the six-year-old princess becomes queen-elect. By the king’s order she receives a princely—rather than a “princess--ly” —education: science, math, politics, art and philosophy, hunting and fencing. At her coronation at age eighteen she stuns the court with her revolutionary ideas and her independence. She not only rejects several marriage proposals, she principally rejects marriage and the obligation to produce an heir. Perplexingly she abdicates in 1654, converts to Catholicism and lives in Rome until her death. Kristina’s (Malin Buska) close friendship with Countess Ebba Sparre (Sarah Gadon) and her preference for male attire led to speculation that she was lesbian. The film runs with this assumption and presents a strong-willed young woman with a brilliant mind, utterly confused by her emotions and no one to turn to for guidance.
Malin Buska captures this character —perfectly described by the clever film title as at once male & female, old & young—very well. Her extravagant costumes (by Marjatta Nissinen) are fantastic; though period-style they look en vogue and Buska certainly knows how to walk them. Except for Sarah Gadon — who gives a lovely Ebba Sparre, and Martina Gedeck as the mentally ill queen mother, the other cast members don’t leave a lasting impression. The film seems more like a TV docudrama and should have been more captivating with a main character like this. (Carola A)