17 June 2012

Nikolaj Arcel's 'A Royal Affair'

In the last year or so Scandinavian noir has become fashionable in the UK, partly because of the success of Sieg Larrson’s ‘The Girl with/who …' Millenium trilogy but also encouraged by the astute BBC4 purchase of Danish broadcasting’s Forbrydelsen (The Killing) and Borgen series. It will be interesting to see if this taste extends to A Royal Affair (En kongelig affære*), a costume drama set in 18th century Denmark. (Strictly speaking it is a Danish, Swedish, Czech and German co-production)

A Royal Affair is handsomely filmed and told in an unhurried straightforward way which reminded me of the films of the now almost forgotten Bo Widerberg. Mads Mikkelsen plays the part of Struensee, the German doctor called to treat the madness of King Christian of Denmark, well played by Mikkel Boe Følsgaard. Struensee and Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander) fall in love – a meeting of Enlightenment minds which ends tragically for them both. The background of social change and palace politics (Borgen circa 1790) makes the film all the more involving. Fans of the Danish TV series may spot one or two familiar faces.

Tactfully A Royal Affair was released in the UK the week after the Royal Jubilee – not that anyone would draw parallels, and if they could –“Off with their heads!” as the Queen of Hearts would say.

*It took 163 posts before I needed an (e-umlaut or diaeresis) 'ë' and then an ‘æ’ and an ‘ø’ come along at 164!

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