A Royal Affair
(En kongelig affaere)
Film Review by Kam Williams
Queen Plots Coup in 18th Century Costume Drama
If you are a fan of elaborate costume dramas of Shakespearean proportions, A Royal Affair is likely right up your alley. Nikolaj Arcel, who wrote the script for the Swedish-language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, does double duty this time around, both directing and adapting Bodil Steensen-Leth’s erotic novel, Prinsesse af blodet, to the big screen.
The epic tale revolves around the love triangle which develops when Denmark’s 15 year-old Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander) falls head over heels for a dashing doctor named Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen). This only makes sense since her considerably older husband she’s just met is not only a clumsy lover but stark raving mad to boot.
She and the Royal physician are not only attracted to each other, but share some lofty ideals for the long-oppressed citizenry. So, casting their fate to the wind, the smitten lovebirds soon set about plotting to overthrow the cuckoo king.
Of course, no monarch takes kindly to a coup d’etat, and complications ensue. It doesn’t help matters that the recently-arrived Caroline is a sister of Britain’s King George III, and Johann is German, which means the insurgency has the potential to turn into an international incident.
While carrying on their torrid affair, the pair contemplates ushering in the Age of Enlightenment, a cultural movement that had already taken hold elsewhere around Europe. While folks familiar with Danish history might have an idea where this all leads, it was definitely fun for this uninformed critic to witness the intriguing play-by-play in the dark as to what was looming just over the horizon at each tawdry twist and turn.
A lust for power revealing, what else, but something rotten in the State of Denmark.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for sexuality and violent images.
In Danish, French, German and English with subtitles
Running time: 137 minutes
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
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