Cast: Mad Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander, Mikkel Føsgaard
Theater or DVD: DVD, Netflix (streaming)
Where to buy it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Watch the trailer: YouTube
Anyone who has been watching the NBC’s Hannibal is familiar with the enigmatic charm and intensity of Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who plays the notorious serial killer and title character. What they might not know is he has had a long career of playing equally alluring characters. His most recent film, A Royal Affair, being a fine example of his talent and smoldering sex appeal.
I’m a sucker for costume drama, especially when it is based on historical events. Fair warning to anyone who doesn’t like to read and watch at the same time, this film is subtitled. It didn’t bother me at all, in fact hearing the actors speak in their native tongue (and occasionally in English) only added to the atmosphere and authentic feel of the film. I felt like I was getting a secret peek into that moment in time.
A Royal Affair does some things differently than most English-language period pieces. First off, we start the story with Caroline, played by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, opposed to either of the two male counterparts. I loved this choice, not only because I’m a woman who loves seeing female characters center stage in a movie. Because I am a foreigner to the time and country, Caroline became my guide in this new world and story. Which, not surprisingly, made her a very sympathetic character.
Seeing the uncomfortable incompatibility between these two really brought home the ugly reality of arranged marriages and the burden of royalty. I especially felt for Caroline, an educated and well read young woman who is trust into a foreign country mired in a conservative culture that actively banned all materials that challenged the power of the crown or the church. Trapped in a loveless marriage when a man who was more of a child than a king, Caroline took comfort in trying to be a good mother and queen. Though in the country's complex political structure, the king's council (a group of stuffy, conservative and wealth aristocratic men) where the true rullers of the country.
Enter Johann Friedrich Struensee, played by Mikkelsen, a simple country doctor. The son of a pastor, who is also a man of enlightenment, who had anonymously published scandalous papers challenging the position of the church in governmental affairs and proposed inoculations for smallpox, among other things.
The unconventional doctor finds himself in the unique position of becoming the royal physician. He gains the trust and friendship of the King. Soon catches the attention and eventually the heart of the young queen. And that’s when all hell broke loose.
This movie is entrancing both in it’s visuals, breath-taking landscapes and lavish costumes, but also in the flawless performances. I was truly swept away in the story. Unlike a lot of period dramas it’s wasn’t the spectacle that won me over, but the heartbreakingly honesty in the portrayals of these historical characters as real, passionate and deeply flawed people.
Of course, this is the a PPSS recommendation so it goes without saying that the sex scenes were spellbinding and sensual. Fans of Mister Mikkelsen will not be disappointed. I may have done a bit of rewatching of certain scenes, for research. ;)
Sex and fine-ass actors aside, this is one of the best films of 2012. It should be on the Netflix queue, or dvd shopping list of fans of costume dramas, Mads Mikkelsen and/or historical romances. I cannot promise a happily ever after, but it will be worth the tears.