A Royal Affair is one of those films where I forget that I am reading subtitles. The story was so engaging, the characters so interesting, and the plot so twisted that I was unable to look away. I certainly love a good period piece and this nomination from Denmark was excellent.
It is the true story of an English princess, Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) who marries the Danish King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) who, it becomes apparent very quickly, is a little insane. He is childish, jealous, and completely obsessed with sex and prostitutes. It doesn’t take long for Caroline to despise him and after she gives him a son she refuses to allow him into her bed.
When Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) becomes the royal physician, everything changes. He and the queen fall in love and together with a persuaded king who thinks himself an actor, they take command of the kingdom and begin a revolution. This revolution historically influenced the future of Europe.
All of the characters and their motivations are deep and well portrayed. Although Caroline’s anger toward her husband seemed a little extreme to me, and her affair with the doctor was very risky, her motivations are well explained and in a narrative as a letter to her children she tells how she found herself in that position.
The costumes, palaces, countryside, and town life are all incredible. If the film is lacking in one area, it is that it spends so much time with the aristocracy discussing the poverty of its people that we actually see very little of how wretched the subjects were and how much they were in need of a revolution. The censorship was so real that even the queen could not read whatever she wanted, but how else did it negatively affect the people? Besides this, however, there is very little else in the film that falls short of amazing.
If you’re a lover of period pieces, this is definitely one that I would recommend.