Beautifully filmed, exquisitely acted Danish movie revolving around the disastrous marriage of Englishwoman Caroline Mathilde (sister of King George III) to her cousin Danish King Christian VII. The film commences in 1766.
Caroline is fifteen years old, accomplished, well-read and a musician; schooled in the ways of the age, she envisions a romantic match,(obviously accomplished by proxy) where she and her husband reign as benevolent King and Queen of Denmark. All runs amuck when she meets Christian, an inane, insane idiot; doomed to a horrific fate; the only consolation, is the brief life span in the eighteenth century.
“Christian”, in dire need of a fulltime doctor, selects out of a plethora of candidates, German physician “Johann Friederich Struensee”, an enlightened man who has written anonymously, articles and books fostering change and freedoms for the common man; anathema to the royalty and their sycophants who feed off the populace. His illuminated intelligence and glorious progressiveness ignite the mind and passion of “Caroline”; commensurate with the tutelage of the King to enact massive changes in administering the government and people.
Johann is portrayed by the incredulous Mads Mikkelsen ( “Le Chiffre” the villain in “Casino Royale”; “Igor” in “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky”); a face that resonates with a map of the emotional spectrum; he portrays Johann with the perfect peppered concoction of Rasputin/ Svengali; while frolicking, drinking and debauching with the childish King; ambition and love his ultimate undoing.
Caroline, as depicted by lovely Alicia Vikander, is wonderfully pained as her enchantment is vivisected, illusions destroyed by her nincompoop husband and radiant as her naivety is slashed by the devastating, worshipful love of Johann.
The most intriguing character, sickeningly shunned at first, but wheedles his way into our sympathies, by the compelling acting of Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, is Christian, a pathetic ruler who loves acting and has quips of pithy Shakespearean quotes, quixotically recited ; his brief moments of grandeur offset by disillusionment, loneliness and debilitating insecurity; he is a puppet whose tangled strings render him inept as a King and as a man.
“A Royal Affair” is royally cloaked in clandestine palace politics, rumor, back -stabbing and eventual ruination. It is long, but I would not have excised a single second.