Trailer, Expectations, Premise
I’d been looking forward to see A Royal Affair, and I am so glad it didn’t disappoint. It was as exquisite, touching, romantic and inspirational as I expected to be. And while it is primarily a romance/drama period piece, it has its genuinely funny moments.
It is one of those movies whose trailer gives you all the main points: a love affair between the queen and her husband’s physician, the idealistic views of the lovers making things even more complicated and the quite unique relationship between the doctor and the king.
However this is not a thriller, and we were never expecting plot twists. The trailer is supposed to be just a taste of what’s the come, and it does a wonderful job of doing that.
But while the affair gets to be the catalyst of bigger events, the movie is so much more than a love story (though it has become one of my favorite love stories ever).
The movie is about an era when personal freedom or free press doesn’t exist. When free-thinking get you despised or in trouble, and even if you are a princess, you don’t have a lot of options. And politics is as about personal interests, religious influences and manipulation as ever.
Denmark’s young king Christian (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) couldn’t have been less suitable for being a king: he is impulsive, childish, inappropriate and…well, he looks and acts crazy. He’d much rather sleep around with hookers, drink a lot and be oblivious to anything else around him. Of course this serves the court’s interest, as they do whatever they want and just get Christian’s signature. So while the court thrives, the country is in a horrible state: people are dirt poor, there is no freedom of speech or press, there’s corporal punishment for prisoners and serfs…
When English princess Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) marries the king, she is willing to make the best of the arrangement. However her romantic illusions disappear when Christian treats her horribly, making her avoid him for good as soon as she delivers a son.
But things at the kingdom things are about to change tremendously with the arrival of Doctor Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), who has charmed the king with his unique way of approaching him. He is everything the court despises: a free-thinker.
Christian decides that Struensee can make the “boring” queen fun, and Struensee quickly realizes that she is a lot more like him than he initially realized, and as they spend more time together, the attraction and friendship soon turn into something much more intense.
They also realize that, together, using Struensee’s friendship with the king, can make a positive impact on the country. But everything will turn out to be a lot harder than they thought…
What Makes It Special: Set in the 18th Century, Yet Extremely Relevant
I’m absolutely in love with this movie. Hope it gets picked to be one of the foreign film Oscar nominees (and wins, should it be nominated.) It is just my kind of love story: two people share a connection on many levels, there is intense mutual love, they have fun together and most importantly, they fall for each other because of who they are- they can be totally themselves next to each other.
Then there are the universal and timeless concepts of freedom, freedom of expression (even those who are supposedly free don’t have that freedom here), individuality, oppression, religion, politics, ideals and sacrifice.
Last, but not least, there is the “unique” love triangle where the person loved by two people is not the queen, but the doctor. Christian despairs at the possibility of losing Struensee, and he started to enjoy the idea of being a king after he got into the picture.
In addition to the wonderful story, the acting is superb, and the set decoration as well as costume design would probably win Oscar nominations, had this not been a foreign language film. It has 2 Silver Berlin Bears: Best Script and Best Actor (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard).
While the movie as a whole can appeal to the masses, it will please period romance/drama lovers and Mads Mikkelsen fans even more. It might also come across as more meaningful for people who find that they don’t quite belong with the majority and society’s expectations.
It’s worth seeing more than once.
Also on Mads Mikkelsen