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A Royal Affair, Intriguing and Striking (Film Review)


Review by John Delia

Picturesque, intriguing and romantic the odd love story of the strange King of Denmark comes to theaters this weekend.  Called A Royal Affair, the opulent period piece transports the viewer back to the late 1700’s for an inside look at a time of ‘Enlightenment’ when this country was ruled by tyrants who deceived the crown.  Take a look into this interesting world of idealism, insecurity and revolution.

The true story of the Danish King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) who takes Caroline Mathilda (Alicia Vikander) of England to be his Queen is at the center of this beautiful costume piece.  While King Christian has a mental illness and depends largely on his advisors who make favorable decisions for the court, but chastise the people of his realm, have caused unrest.  His new wife urges him to take advice from his newly appointed German doctor Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) who has visions of a free society. While he loves Queen Caroline, so does Johann and a love triangle of sorts ensues leading up a rebellion in the kingdom that changes forever.

The acting by the whole cast is exceptionally good and the story a very fascinating one. The standouts however are Vikander, Folsgaard and Mikkelsen who make up the complicated romance that turns sour.  Vikander does an excellent job with her role as the Queen of Denmark.  She shows her character as more of a trophy to her mentally ill husband than a wife and turns to the charms of Struensee for comfort and vision.  While Mikkelsen immerses himself in the court as a physician his real interest is in bringing equality to the people so he encourages the romance between himself and Queen Caroline getting her to believe in his cause.  Folsgaard keeps his childish King Christian foolish being scared of the court leader Guildberg (David Dencik) who constantly overrules any notion that the King may have.  Getting advice from Struensee who seems to be curing Christian, Folsgaard shows the boldness rising in his character.

Mads Mikkelsen is doctor  Johann Struensee  and Alicia Vikander is Queen Caroline in A ROYAL AFFAIR

Mads Mikkelsen is doctor Johann Struensee and Alicia Vikander is Queen Caroline in A ROYAL AFFAIR

The deep seeded story however, involves the changes that are happening to the people of Denmark.  Rats and squalor are the evils that surround the castle.  Disease has come to the area and the plague has taken a toll.  The people want changes and the age of Enlightenment at the time of writers like Voltaire has taken over the minds of the masses who believe they have entitlements.  Director Nikolaj Arcel handles the era well injecting the cause a little at a time into his lavishly dressed film.  Using Struensee as his tool to bring the new wave to light, encourage it in the mind of the queen and show the will of the people by encouraging the King to accept it for his realm.

A Royal Affair has been rated R by the MPAA for sexual content and some violent images.  The film has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.  Performed mostly in Danish with English subtitles, the movie has already garnered several award wins and nominations from film festivals, Golden Globes and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good historical film with intrigue and romance. (B)

Additional Film Information:

  • Cast: Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Mads Mikkelsen, and Alicia Vikander
  • Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
  • MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and some violent images
  • Genre: Romance, History, Drama, Foreign
  • Language: Danish, German, French with English Subtitles
  • Running Time: 2 hrs 17 min
  • Opening Date: January 11, 2013
  • Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures
  • Awards: Nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film


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