Thursday, 15 November 2012

A Royal Affair-review

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to the royal psychian ,Johann Struensee who  shares her views in enlightenment.Together they try to change the outdated system of Denmark which is based on religion and rules by manipulating the mentally ill king who is greatly attached to both of them.

The script is the backbone of this film.Though focusing on the forbidden love between Caroline and Johann,it does attempt to educate the viewers with information on politics of Denmark,the reformation  and the Enlightenment theories and its quite interesting for a history lover like me.I also enjoyed the fact that more attention is focused on building and portraying the relationship between King Christian and Johann Struensee.The only negative thing about the script is it does gets a bit dragging in the middle and rushed in the end.

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.

Alicia Vikander as the young queen Caroline from England delivers a solid performance.Despite being a swede actress,she narrates the film in Danish and manages to give a a strong performance at par with the other tow actors.She nails both side of the character the lonely neglected wife who longs for love  and the forward thinking queen  who really cares of her citizens brilliantly.Keira Knightley surely has a stiff competition from this upcoming actress as she seems to be born  just to act in these period films.She has another meaty role in this year's most anticipated costume drama Anna Karenina as the innocent Kitty opposite Keira herself.

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
Best Cinematography


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