A Royal Affair
- James Harkness
- Sunday, 17 June 2012
Based on real events, A Royal Affair depicts 18th Century Denmark during the reign of schizophrenic King Christian VII (Mikkel Folsgaard) and his wife Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander), an idealistic Briton of noble pedigree. Wearied by her husband’s erratic behaviour, Caroline begins a passionate affair with the king’s mentor Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen of Casino Royale), a charismatic German physician who advocates the values of the Enlightenment. Director Nikolaj Arcel has crafted a sumptuous period piece buoyed by strong performances, especially from Folsgaard – a versatile newcomer who endears himself to viewers in spite of the king’s infantile, often contemptuous antics. Sure, the forbidden romance plot is well-worn, but the film offers valuable insights into class inequality, the ruthlessness of the aristocracy, and the notion that ideas can be dangerous (not least of all for those who wield them). A Royal Affair is not revolutionary filmmaking, but viewers will certainly leave feeling enlightened. (JH) ***1/2
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