Rotten in the state of Denmark
Married off in the 1760s to the volatile Danish King Christian VII (an outstanding Følsgaard), the well-read, spirited princess Caroline Mathilde (Vikander) finds life stultifying at one of Europe’s last redoubtably feudal courts. Enter doctor Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mikkelsen) to care first for the monarch’s temper, then the queen’s bed and finally, following his rise to a position of near-absolute if temporary power as privy counsellor, the kingdom of Denmark itself. An amazing, true story.
With Lars von Trier helping on the script, it should have told itself. Instead, and despite the lush cinematography and solid performances from the main actors, the movie feels disjointed. The relationships, personal and political, are orchestrated to appear brittle and futile, whilst the enlightenment ideals raging elsewhere in Europe feel remarkably distant, not imminently relevant.
All this might be acceptable as an intentionally made comment on the vagaries and dangers of change. As it is, it seems too much like the passionless musing of another Danish royal: “To be, or not to be” is indeed the question.
A Royal Affair (Die Königin und der Leibarzt) | Directed by Nikolaj Arcel (Denmark/Sweden/Czech Republic/Germany 2012) with Alicia Vikander, Mikkel Følsgaard, Mads Mikkelsen. Starts April 19