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Movie review: 'A Royal Affair' aspires to be period piece

It may be a steamy and sumptuous bodice-ripper, but the Oscar-nominated foreign language film aspires to much more and succeeds in becoming a thoughtful and universal period piece.
by Brandy McDonnell Modified: January 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013

In his interview, Struensee and Christian bond over their affection for Shakespeare, and the doctor quickly becomes not just the king's physician but also his father figure and constant companion.

When they arrive back in Denmark, the queen doesn't initially trust the doctor, despite his knack for redirecting the king's worst impulses. Once she discovers his secret collection of Enlightenment literature, though, Struensee and Caroline Mathilde bond over their mutual devotion to free thinking and high ideals.

The physician becomes confidante to both royals. In one of the film's most affecting scenes, he sits holding hands with the couple after inoculating their young son from smallpox. It's a poignant foreshadowing of how complicated their love triangle would become.

As their relationship moves from avid talks and long walks to passionate secret trysts, though, Struensee and Caroline Mathilde provide their political enemies — especially the king's scheming stepmother (Trine Dyrholm) and a power-hungry priest (David Dencik) — with ample means and opportunity to counter their idealistic crusade.

A framing device of the exiled queen penning a heartrending letter to her far-off children makes some of the outcomes clear, but the period drama remains gripping to the end, which is not as grim as it might have been. Sensitive performances from the three principles keep it captivating.

Thanks to top-notch work from cinematographer Rasmus Videbæk, production designer Niels Sejer and costumer Manon Rasmussen, “A Royal Affair” is gorgeous to watch.

— Brandy McDonnell

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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