Monday, July 1, 2013

Now on Netflix Instant: A Royal Affair (2012)



A Royal Affair (2012) - Directed by Nikolaj Arcel; Written by Rasmus Heisterberg and Nikolaj Arcel; Starring Alicia Vikander, Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Folsgaard.

By Kenny Howell

One of the best movies of 2012, this beautiful, tragic love story is set during big changes in 18th century Denmark.

Based on a true story, Caroline Mathilde of Great Britain is married to King Christian VII of Denmark. When she gets there, she finds that the King is mentally ill, often bursting into loud spurts of anger, and spending his time in brothels around Copenhagen. Once Caroline gives him an heir, she shuts herself off in her chambers.

That is until Dr. Johann Friedrich Struensee shows up. Struensee, a German, is hired to be the King's personal physician. He understands how to deal with the King's mental illness, and the King soon trusts him and him only. However, Struensee falls for the Queen over their love of great literature and Enlightenment ideals, something Denmark was fighting against at the time. They use the easy manipulation of the King to start passing very liberal laws that anger the court, and builds a resistance against the outsider Struensee.

The three leads are outstanding in their roles, as Vikander is defiant and strong against her oppressive world. Mikkelsen, now known as Hannibal to American TV audiences, is as steady as always. Folsgaard doesn't take the King's mental illness to one side or the other. You feel sorry for him at times, and you hate him at times. His childish glee is annoying and hilarious, depending on the situation.

The strength of the movie is in those well rounded characters. No one is perfect. The Queen is probably the least flawed, but she still takes advantage of the King's illness to get what she wants. Struensee as well, and as his power grows, he becomes more like a dictator, even if it is needed in some ways.

Easily one of the best, if not the best movie of 2012.

Rating: ****

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