A Royal Affair Movie Review

With striking photography, sumptuous production values and strong acting, this Danish epic tells a remarkable true story about a tumultuous moment in European history. It's a fascinating, involving story, although the film is a bit too dry to move us.

In 1766, aristocratic English girl Caroline (Vikander) is married off to the Danish King (Folsgaard) to preserve the dynasty. But his brutish rule turns her against him, and she seeks intellectual stimulation from the King's close advisor Johann (Mikkelsen). Eventually, this meeting of minds turns into a lusty affair, as the Queen and Johann plot to turn Denmark into a progressive, compassionate nation. Meanwhile, the King's stepmother (Dyrholm) is conniving to have him declared unfit so her son (Nielsen) can claim the throne.

Intense plot twists and deepening themes hold our interest, especially with the mix of suspicion, loyalty and camaraderie between the characters. And the stakes couldn't be higher, since Caroline and Johann launch into their dangerous affair just as hardliners stage a vicious coup to send their country back into the dark ages. But the film never exploits the story's emotional core, leaving us observing events without feeling like we're living through them.

Director-cowriter Arcel paints beautifully grubby, grey tone over the lavish period details. He also encourages the cast to give raw, naturalistic performances that quietly underline the complex issues and keep us engaged.

Mikkelsen is always adept at this kind of layering. It might be clear who the good and bad guys are, but everyone has some characteristic that undercuts our feelings about them.

The film is a fascinating portrait of a turbulent time in European history, when religion and superstition ruled "official" thought even as intellectual enlightenment was starting to show a fairer way forward. This mix of big ideas provides potent fuel to the swirl of plots and counterplots. Intriguingly, the old-school Danes see Caroline as a threat from the start, banning many of the books she brought with her. And she's immediately shocked by the filth and poverty of the Danish people in contrast to the opulence of the palace. Which adds a telling kick of resonance.

Cast & Crew

Director : Nikolaj Arcel

Producer : Meta Louise Foldager, Sisse Graum Jorgensen,

Starring : , , , , William Johnk Nielsen, Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, Thomas W Gabrielsson,


A Royal Affair Rating

" Good "

Rating: 15, 2012


More Mads Mikkelsen

Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas Trailer

Michael Kohlhaas is a horse dealer living a simple but idyllic life with his beautiful wife, children and their quaint home. He buys some carefully...

Charlie Countryman - Red Band Trailer Trailer

When Charlie Countryman boarded a plane to Bucharest in Romania after a hallucination of his late mother told him to, it became both the best...

Shia LeBeouf Bares Nearly All on Social Media, Nothing New

Celebrities tend to think it’s okay to take naked pictures of themselves and put them on the Internet. The thought process is a difficult one...

Charlie Countryman Trailer

Charlie Countryman is a regular guy who is prompted to travel to Bucharest in Romania after experiencing a vision of his deceased mother. However, along...


Hannibal TV Series Picked Up For Second Season By NBC

After rave reviews and decent audience return throughout the first season, NBC have announced that the new series Hannibal has been picked up for another...

Renewed At Last: NBC's 'Hannibal' Will Return For Season 2

It’s coming up to the end of review season and NBC’s “Hannibal” has made the cut. The news of the series, based on the Hannibal...

NBC Pulling Next Week's Episode Of Hannibal, Due To Potentially Offensive Violent Content

NBC announced this Friday that it would be pulling an episode of its serial killer drama Hannibal, set to air this Sunday. Reason being that...

The Hunt [Jagten] Movie Review

Superficially about child abuse, this riveting, troubling Danish film is actually an exploration of collective paranoia. And the centrepiece performance from Mikkelsen is so good...