A Royal Affair (2012) Review

Verdict: Chilling

An amazing portrayal of a true story.


Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) is married to the King of Denmark, Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) as a political bond, but soon finds that he is not quite right in the head. After giving birth to their first child and therefore ‘completing’ her role in their arrangement, she distances herself from him and resigns to live a life of misery. Christian soon finds a companion in Dr. Johann Stuensee (Mads Mikkelsen), a man who is secretly part of the Enlightenment, and as Caroline and Johann fall for each other, they plot to create a better country. Directed by Nikolaj Arcel.

The film does a great job with creating an authentic feel of the narrative. Settings and costumes are great, but what really caught me off guard was how this film is much more than just a love affair. By watching the trailer, I got the impression that the film was solely focused on the affair and that the ending would be some soppy elopement. I guess my first mistake was that I did not realize this was based on a true story.

Cinematography and editing (colour schemes) did a fantastic job at creating an 18th century feel to the film. Arcel does a well at directing all aspects of the film. Juxtaposition of certain shots definitely made a powerful impact and helped to evoke certain emotions. Though the mise-en-scene and script was well produced, I would say that the performance from the actors/actresses is what made this film extraordinary. There are a few scenes though that seem a little blatant and I might question the authenticity of them. But otherwise, this film was well shot, edited and produced.

Vikander plays her character with such grace and is able to portray how emotionally scarred she is from being with Christian. Her poise and expressions transcend her performance. Mikkelsen as well does a great job with his role as a strong minded and confident doctor with revolutionary ideas. However, Folsgaard’s performance just blew me away. I intensely disliked his character at the beginning but soon realized that he most definitely had some sort of mental illness. After he was somewhat controlled, I began to understand that his behaviour was not his fault and came to sympathize for him. Folsgaard does an incredible job at portraying Christian that he totally embodies his character. The same can be said of the other two, and this trio’s performance is simply chilling.

I went on an emotional roller-coaster with this film. Intense dislike for the King to understanding of his actions, anger at the conservative party and council who live for profit, and heartache for Caroline and Johann as they try to keep up pretences. As well, I am satisfied with how the film ended, it did so cohesively and smoothly.

To sum-up:
PROS: Acting, screenplay, mise-en-scene, directing
CONS: Certain questionably blatant scenes

I give this a 9/10.

Have you seen A Royal Affair? Rate it out of 5 stars above or leave a comment below!


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