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A Royal Affair

Year: 2012
Production Co: Zentropa Entertainments
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writer: Rasmus Heisterberg/Nikolaj Arcel
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard

For most of the running time I thought this movie was the sort of thing I should recommend to my wife – she loves anything to do with the period depicted and all the fashions, etiquette and social trappings.

But while the look and design of the film doesn't exactly misrepresent the dark places it ends up in, it certainly doesn't end where you think it will, almost as if the people behind it knew it had to include some horror and death to stop it being a Mills and Boon come to life (being a true story however, they had the perfect excuse).

I'd also hesitate to call it boring exactly, but just a few weeks after watching it I remember very little about it.

Alicia Vikander is Caroline, a British princess who's married off to the unhinged young King Christian (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) of Denmark with the express purpose of giving him viable heirs.

While the rest of Europe is modernising, Denmark is still firmly in the Middle Ages grip of the Church, and the powerbrokers behind the royal court want to keep it that way, Christian merely a figurehead to sign laws while he spends his days playing with his dogs and his nights in the whorehouses of Copenhagen.

Pretty soon Caroline can't stand him, having given him two children and banned him from ever touching her again. But a bright spot comes in the form of the doctor assigned to be Christian's personal physician and a man of the Enlightenment, Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen). It isn't long before he and Caroline fall in love and conduct their affair under Christian's nose, plotting to use the king's cluelessness to insinuate more progressive government into Denmark.

It puts them at odds with the clerics and council who really run things, and (quite unlike the living regency romance novel it looks and moves like) has a very different denouement for the chatacters we've considered the heroes of the story.

As I've seen written in at least one other review it does successfuly bring the personal and political together into a seamless whole and while it's a true story and a worthy one to tell about a particular time and place in European history, it's all cloaked in fairly drab and stuffy surroundings and manners. Though it's usually a complaint to level at any film, it could have done with more Hollywood zing.

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