Pics and Flicks

4 Star- Margaret Pomeranz

The Danes are riding high on the international film scene at the moment with MADS MIKKELSEN winning best actor in Cannes recently. He stars in a new release here, A ROYAL AFFAIR, about a possibly little-known historical event in Denmark in the 18th Century. A young English princess, Caroline - ALICIA VIKANDER - travels to Copenhagen to be married to the Danish king Christian - MIKKEL BOE FOELSGAARD.She's horrified to discover that her young husband is mentally unstable. When Johann Struensee, Mikkelsen, is appointed to be his personal physician, a dangerous closeness develops between the young Queen and the doctor.

When the Queen and Struensee become involved in politics, trying to reform some of iniquities in Danish society, they enter even more dangerous territory.This has been beautifully directed by Nikolai Arcel from a screenplay he wrote with Rasmus Heisterberg, the duo that brought us the first and the best of the Stieg Larsson adaptations, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. It's not only a grand romance, it's also an insight into the dangers of personal and political hubris. MADS MIKKELSEN is wonderful as Struensee as is ALICIA VIKANDER as the Queen, but it's the performance of MIKKEL BOE FOELSGAARD as the King that is stunning, he brings a beautiful pathos to his demanding role. It is quite a conventional film in many ways, but it's been done intelligently, it is an engrossing work.

R2 hr. 13 min.
Art House & International, Drama
 Nikolaj Arcel
 Lars von Trier

Further comments


DAVID: Isn’t it interesting? You see I didn’t know this story from Danish history.


DAVID: But at almost the same time, certainly in the same century, the 18th century, exactly the same thing was happening in Russia with Catherine The Great, who was, I think, an Austrian princess, who married the czar only to discover that he was bonkers and...

MARGARET: It’s all this inbreeding in European royalty.

DAVID: It is, isn’t it? That’s right and how fascinating that this is another story. I don’t think - this is not done as well as Josef von Sternberg did THE SCARLET EMPRESS, I must say.

MARGARET: Oh, David.

DAVID: It’s a sumptuously made, attractive people, all of that, but quite a conventional film, I think. It’s got an interesting subtext, this hubris thing, as you said. That is interesting and it told me some things about Danish history that I didn’t know so that was interesting too but I don’t think it’s a great film particularly.

MARGARET: But it’s also interesting to see how far we’ve come in not a very great period of time. The censorship issues then.


MARGARET: The treatment of the poor, of prisoners.

DAVID: Oh, yes, sure.

MARGARET: Torture was sanctioned by the state.


MARGARET: All of this horrible stuff that he tried to reform with her.


MARGARET: He was an enlightened human being.

DAVID: Absolutely, yes.

MARGARET: But politically not very astute.

DAVID: Just a bit up himself really.

MARGARET: Oh, David, I wish you wouldn’t do that. No, he’s not but I actually was really impressed by this and interested. I’m giving it four stars.

DAVID: I’m giving it three and a half.


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