Sumptuous Costume Drama Dresses Up Fascinating Danish History

Royal Affair

Add "Royal Affair" to the growing list of Mads Mikkelsen's tour de force performances. The film is a historical drama centering on a German doctor brought in as a personal physician to King Christian VII of Denmark. Christian was considered mad and alienated his wife, Queen Caroline of Britain. Mikkelsen's character, Dr. Johann Struensee, was a commoner but well-read and familiar with Voltaire and other champions of the enlightenment.  Struensee befriended Christian and urged him to introduce reforms like orphanages and banning torture of prisoners. Simultaneously, Struensee found Queen Caroline articulate and perspicacious and they began a passionate affair. According to an interview with writer/director Nikolaj Arcel, the plot hews close to the truth and was based on the Queen Caroline's letters and diaries. Struensee's friendship with the king not only gave him access to great power, but also great enemies. King Christian's stepmother and half-brother had designs on the throne. The wealthy aristocrats didn't happily embrace higher taxes and limiting servitude. Tension rose and the high-minded reforms were set to topple.  We all know where the road paved with good intentions leads, but "Royal Affair" keeps you guessing until the final scenes.

--Cindy F., Headquarters

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