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Denmark 2012
Directed by
Nikolaj Arcel
137 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Lia McCrae-Moore
4 stars

Royal Affair, A

Synopsis: The King of Denmark, Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), requires a queen and so the independent-minded and accomplished Caroline (Alicia Vikander) is shipped over from England to reign by his side. Christian, plagued by his own demons, can't provide Caroline with the companionship or intellectual stimulation that she craves. When Dr.Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) is engaged as Christian’s physician he soon becomes both Christian and Caroline’s closest confidant. But this unconventional threesome is destined for tragedy.

A Royal Affair is everything I love about a good historical drama. It is a tantalizing combination of aesthetic beauty and enthralling story.  The scenery is stunning, the costuming elaborate and the love affair deliciously illicit. Unashamedly, I will admit that I am a complete sucker for watching a brooding male seduce a smart, sultry female and there were plenty of heaving chests, bursting bustiers and long lustful looks to be had throughout the course of this film.

The sexual tension zings between Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen from the very start and both give strong performances as two non-conformist spirits. Mikkel Folsgaard is excellent as the emotionally-stunted king and the strange and inextricable bond between the three forms an intriguing and integral part of this story.

The camera work is also admirable, capturing in exquisite detail the mood and atmosphere of each scene as it moves from intimate, even claustrophobic, hand-held close-ups to expansive wide shots of the countryside. Nikolaj Arcel does a sensational job of keeping his viewers entranced by the interior world of each of his characters by paying close attention to his actors’ subtle facial expressions and physical gestures.  

My only real criticism rests with the length of this film. Despite being initially gripped by the narrative, I struggled to sustain interest to the very end. In saying that, the final scene of this film was exceptionally powerful and Arcel works wonders with his actors’ understated performances, once again, relying not on words but body language and music to express the ultimately inexpressible. This admittedly personal reservation aside, if you are up for traveling back in time for some serious star-crossed romance then A Royal Affair will be the perfect film for you.




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