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A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair

Released 15 June 2012
Director Nicolaj Arcel

Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander, Mikkel Folsgaard

Nicolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg

Meta Louise Foldager, Sisse Graum Jorgensen, Louise Vesth
Origin Denmark
Running Time 137 minutes
Genre Historical drama
Rating 15A

Love triangle.

Denmark has for a long time, especially in the last two decades or so, been heralded as a country known for producing high quality films. So coming in to view this 18th Century drama I was expecting a slick production that was well-acted, beautifully choreographed and historically informative. This is exactly what I received as A Royal Affair, led by the superb Mads Mikkelsen, delivered on a number of levels.

Set during the transitional period of the Enlightenment, British Royal Princess Caroline Matilda marries her Danish cousin, King Christian VII. After Christian, a mentally unstable leader who is susceptible to his country's political and religious dignitaries, befriends free-thinker Doctor Johann Struensee as his new physician, Caroline and Streunsee plot a revolution that could change the future of Denmark forever. However, as their intense, secret love for one another blossoms, so too do the risks involved in keeping those formerly in power at bay.

Whether entirely accurate or not is another matter, but the relationships between the core characters are what make this film so fascinating. Caroline, excited by the thrill of being queen to her knight, is let down by a father of her first child who is eccentric and aloof. Dismayed by the complexities of a foreign country that is alien to her, she becomes intrigued by the ambitious, radical Streunsee, both of whom then fall deeply in love. In the middle is Christian who, even after he finds out about his wife's exploits and the real father of Caroline's second child, still longs to be alongside his best friend Streunsee – a man who genuinely saw normality in his wayward soul and inspired the king to, for a period at least, exercise the full right of his power.

The trio of Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Folsgaard are excellent in portraying what is your true-to-life, if a little unconventional, love triangle. The one main drawback of the film is that, at almost two and a half hours in length, there are times when you feel that it could have been written a little tighter. That said, there is a lot to get through and some of the less important scenes are in fact intricate to the unique relationships that were developed.

As historical dramas go, A Royal Affair is particularly entertaining, even more so when you think of what Denmark is like today compared to its complete contrast more than two centuries ago.

- David Caulfield