Film Review: A ROYAL AFFAIR

'Mikkel Boe Folsgaad is riveting playing the mad King, the detailed story is engrossing and I'm left wondering what Frederik, the Crown Prince thinks' ...Naomi Rossdeutscher

A train trip usually taking 1 hour, took 2 hours over the long weekend & that means another 2 on return - (we were put on buses because of track-work) Unfortunately, it was during the Sydney Film Festival and the Vivid light festival. I pay $60 for my weekly ticket and then I overhear a teller say to a senior, 'At least you've got transport!' Nice one Goofy, if only you took the lemon out your mouth before delivering that gem. Thought bubble 'Tell customers they have to sit for extended hours, maybe the lady has a dodgy hip... hmm patience and a smile or cranky?'

By the time we reach town I'd aquired a dodgy hip and feel drugged by boredom. As caffeine's required I scramble to Nespresso, where the staff are well trained and I buy the Indira, Naora and Arpeggio flavours. Before my movie, I stop in at the SFF Media Centre to check on tickets and note the staff there are fabulous too, even though they're mad busy.

I take my usual seat in the Cinema - centre, near the back and chat with the lady next to me. She knows the Danish history, the film is based on and she's excited. I don't know the history, just the genre and Lars Von Trier is one of the producers, so there's no particular expectations. We hunker down as the screen fills with an epic image, setting the tone and we're immediately swept away.

A ROYAL AFFAIR

In the 1770's Caroline Mathilde, the younger sister of King George III, who was raised in England, enthusiastically enters into an arranged marriage with Danish King Christian, hoping for romance and love, but she's shattered to discover her new husband is a tad jangled in the soft brain department. Interested in being the centre of attention and having fun, he humiliates her for stealing his limelight and eventually comes to call her 'Mother'. After she consummates the marriage and falls pregnant, duty done, she turns him away from her bed. When Johann Struensee, a German social progressive, is appointed as the Kings' personal physician, he builds a bond with the King, has an affair with the Queen, upsets the balance of power between the government council, clergy and upper classes by bringing about groundbreaking changes to the laws of Denmark. Unfortunately trickery, betrayal and tragedy follows and Denmark descends into a very dark place.

Mads Mikkelsen in A Royal Affair. Photo by Jiri Hanzl

MY IMPRESSIONS...

Enlightened performances - Mikkel Boe Folsgaad is riveting playing the bizarre King and Mads Mikkelsen who plays the German Doctor is also fascinating to watch. The cinematography is lush, but muted by weather and set design. The script tells a strong story, trimmed of fat and kept me on the edge of my seat, unusual for a historical drama. I enjoyed learning about this fascinating part of Denmark's history and I wonder if Crown Prince Frederik and wife Mary have seen it... and what they think about it?

The lady next to me is impressed and satisfied with the movie, but she doesn't seem to want to leave the cinema. I can't hang around 'cause I've got a 2 hour bus trip home, where I can't read, write or sleep and fear the red eyed return trip tomorrow in the wee hours. It's sending me to drink!

A FEW OF THE FILM MAKERS...

Director: Nikolaj Arcel

Screenwriters: Rasmus Heisterberg, Nikolaj Arcel

Producers: Meta Louise Foldager, Sisse Graum Jorgensen

Distributor: Madman Entertainment

Cast: Alicia Vikander, David Dencik, Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, Trine Dyrholm and many others

Winner of Best Screenplay and Best Actor prizes at the Berlinale

Runtime: 137 mins