Directed by Nikolaj Arcel(the screenplay writer of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) with Mads Mikkelsen,Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Boe Folsgaard,this Danish film is about the England's Caroline Matilde who gets married to a Danish King at a young age only to find him to be mentally ill.Caroline Matilde,who has different views on life and longs for a no-traditional female life ,find herself trapped in a loveless marriage when she finds out her new husband is sick and only wants to play.She soon finds out the the political system of Denmark when most of her books were shipped back to England due to the censorship.Longing for freedom,desire for love,she finds herself attracted to the royal psychian ,Johann Struensee who shares her views in enlightenment.Together they try to change the outdated system of Denmark which is based on religion and rules by manipulating the mentally ill king who is greatly attached to both of them.
Mads Mikkelsen as the reformist Johann Friedrich Struensee gives a steady performance throughout the film but it was during the last 20 minutes of the film where he shines. I'm so used to see him playing the bad guy but seeing him getting vulnerable at the end was so fresh.The scenes where he realises he will not be pardoned as promised and screaming in disappointment towards the citizens who are afraid of change even though its for the greater good is so heart wrenching.As for his chemistry with his co-stars,i found his chemistry with Mikkel Boe Folsgaard more convincing than his chemistry with Alicia Vikander ,though its not a big problem.
However its newcomer Mikkel Boe Folsgard that steals the show as the loony King Christian.His superb performance of 'Mr Bean meets I am Sam meets The King Speech' is a delight to watch.Despite playing a mentally ill character he gives a range of performance.He was annoying and funny during the first half,impressive and sympathetic when his character becomes submissive to Johann.He brilliantly shifts from a childish mentally ill guy to a stern king with ease and like stated above his chemistry with Mikkelsen was so good that it make me to question the sexuality of King Christian.He is definitely one to watch.
This is a film where everything is detail oriented and a feast to the eyes.The costumes in the film is immaculate.The hair and make up in the film also looks great.Its probably this year's best dressed film. As 90% of the film takes place in the castle,the sets are crucial to bring this period piece alive and the art direction team doesn't disappoint.Just as its costumes,the interior designs are gorgeous.
The cinematography is another plus in this film.All the scenes are beautifully captured .I was in awe with two particular scenes; where Johann and Caroline decides to take shelter from the rain under a tree and the scene where Caroline says farewell to her lady in waiting in the backdrop of falling snow.There are many others scene but I really loved those scenes.
In conclusion,A Royal Affair is a detail oriented period custom dram filled with beautiful costumes,imagery's,intense performances for the three lead and a proof that historical film can be interesting too without lavish battles and blood spill.
Possible Oscar contender for the following categories:
Best Foreign Film-Denmark
Best Supporting Actor-Mikkel Boe Folsgaard
Best Supporting Actress-Alicia Vikander
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction