Awards: Berlin International Film Festival: Best Actor (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), Best Screenplay; Philadelphia Film Festival: Audience Award; Golden Globe Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film.
"Even appreciated simply as a little-known chapter of European history, [A Royal Affair] proves consistently engrossing, edifying and affecting.---Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
"A crowned-heads soap opera that balances effectively between pomp and melodramatic circumstance."---Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"A Royal Affair is historical drama of the highest order - teeming with big ideas, and anchored by the nicely nuanced performances of Vikander and Mikkelsen."--Stephen Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
A Gala Presentation at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, A Royal Affair displays all the talents and charms of its star, Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt, Casino Royale), while director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel brings a sharp, contemporary edge to this notorious true story of illicit love and political intrigue.
In the late eighteenth century, Denmark is ruled by the spoiled King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), for whom governing takes a decided backseat to playing with his dog and indulging in all the pleasures of the flesh — which makes him susceptible to the designs of cunning courtiers. Enter Johann Struensee (Mikkelsen), a ruggedly handsome German doctor and staunch proponent of the Enlightenment’s reformist principles, who is so well liked by the king when they meet abroad that he is asked to return with the monarch to Copenhagen as his personal physician. There, Struensee discovers his political match in the king’s physically and intellectually captivating queen, Caroline Mathilde (Anna Karenina), who happens to be somewhat starved for attention.
Eager to use his influence to advance the cause of social reform, Struensee partners with the queen to convince the king to embark on an aggressive campaign of reforms, all of which stand in direct opposition to the conservative principles espoused by the king’s governing council. The two kindred spirits soon find themselves so engrossed in their explosive passion for each other that they fail to notice the conspiracies taking shape around them. What unfolds is a tale of high-flown idealism undone by the blind passion of love.
Mikkelsen and Vikander are electrifying as the ill-starred lovers, and their palpable chemistry, combined with Arcel’s assured direction and the film’s fine art direction and costume design, create both a sweepingly romantic and subtly nuanced portrait of this infamous episode in Denmark’s history. At once intimate and epic, A Royal Affair is one of the finest, most well-crafted period dramas in recent memory.