Dir: Nikolaj Arcel
Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Alicia Vikander
The British are accustomed to the whole pomp and circumstance surrounding our Royal Family; with the Golden Jubilee and the Royal Wedding still recent memories, it seems we can’t get enough of it. It’s easy to overlook the fact that most European countries have, or have had, Royal families of their own. Set in the late 18th century, and based on a true story, A Royal Affair is a fascinating story of a period of history which was integral in fashioning modern day Denmark. It is a story of a doctor, who, for almost a year, practically ruled a country.
Caroline has been preparing all her life to marry a King, and when the match is made, she finds herself leaving Britain to marry the Danish King, Christian VII. It’s quickly apparent that all is not well with her new husband and any dreams of love are soon washed away. She resigns herself to a lonely, loveless life. This all changes when Johann Friedrich Struensee is chosen as the King’s new physician. As their relationship develops, Caroline soon realises that she has a new ally in many different ways.
Although A Royal Affair is written by Lars Von Trier, it bears none of the hallmarks associated with his usual cinematic output. Indeed, the film itself is a beautiful, yet subtle, portrait of the developing relationship between Caroline and Johann. The costumes and cinematography are sumptuous in this beautifully stylish period drama; reminiscent to Amadeus in attention to detail and historical accuracy.
Don’t go into this expecting a fast-paced thriller; A Royal Affair a studied costume drama, which focuses on the love triangle within the rapidly changing world. In a time of great change throughout Europe, Denmark resisted the onset of the Age of Enlightenment more vehemently than most. The drama and intrigue is set within the Royal Court, following the major players as they all vie for political influence in a staunchly Christian nation. Both Mikkelsen and Følsgaard give superb performances (Følsgaard’s resemblance to Natalie Portman is slightly off-putting at times) which are refined, understated and powerful.
A Royal Affair is not a film which will instantly take your breath away, it is, however, a slow-burning triumph of period film-making; being by far and away the most consummate costume drama I’ve seen in a long time.
On General release now at http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/aroyalaffair