A Royal Affair is a thoughtful dissection of relationships, both personal and political, and of the use and abuse of power. Made on a modest budget (by Hollywood standards), the film constructs a detailed and convincing picture of 18th Century Denmark, with excellent production and costume design. Part conspiracy thriller and part romantic drama, the film tells the story of the young English-born princess Caroline who in 1766 enters into an arranged marriage with King Christian V11 of Denmark.
The King is mentally unstable and the marriage unhappy and as the King’s condition deteriorates, German doctor Johann Struensee is employed as his personal physician. Struensee’s friendship with the king gives him unprecedented influence, but he becomes intoxicated with his power and begins an affair with Caroline. The exposure of this affair by Struensee’s political enemies at court leads inexorably towards a tragic and moving finale.
Very well shot, directed and acted (particularly by the three leads; a gorgeous Alicia Vikander as Caroline, a brooding and arrogant Mads Mikkelsen as Struensee, and a very moving Mikkel Boe Folsgaard (who won Best Actor at the Berlin Film Festival as Christian). The film avoids sentimentality, focusing strongly on the character and behaviour of its protagonists.
Well worth seeing, three and a half stars.
Review by: Peter Hirst (Member of Aliens & Others)