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A Royal Affair - Film Review

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
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Bodices aren't ripped so much as surreptitiously unlaced in this handsome costume drama. Adultery, subterfuge, mental illness, warring political factions - its all here, and the generic title A Royal Affair really doesn't do it justice.

At film's start we meet Caroline Mathilde, a 16 year old English girl who's about to marry the Danish king. Being the 18th century, this has all been arranged without her ever meeting him. When she does, he's not exactly what she expected. Let's just say The Madness of King George comes to mind. The new queen decides to make the most of being lumbered with an abject simpleton, but unfortunately, the oppressive king's council have an altogether different agenda.

As a re-telling of history, its fascinating to learn how unenlightened Denmark once was compared to the majority of Europe at the time, and how volatile its political system was. As drama, it has all the elements of a good period piece: a strong-headed heroine, a worthy love interest, forbidden desires, social unrest, and lots of beautiful, misty landscapes of castles and gardens.

Although Mads Mikkelsen is the marquee name in the cast, he's never struck me as being a convincing romantic lead. He's much more effective here in his scenes as the king's manipulative advisor.

At over two hours, the film verges on overstaying its welcome, but for the most part its an intriguing and satisying experience.

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Why? Quality European costume drama
Where: At selected cinemas around the country
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