A ROYAL AFFAIR directed by Nikolaj Arcel, written by Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg from the novel by Bodil Steensen-Leth, with Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Alicia Vikander. A Mongrel Media release. 137 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (February 1). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
Nominated for the best foreign-language film Oscar, this Danish period piece tells the story of a trusted physician who has the king's ear and the queen's heart.
Mads Mikkelsen stars as Johann Struensee, a freethinking physician influenced by the Enlightenment who attends to and then manipulates Denmark's young King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard). In his spare time, the good doctor beds the neglected young queen (Alicia Vikander), who has a mind for more than what the king can offer.
Unfortunately, the forbidden romance is unconvincing: Mikkelsen and Vikander are a mismatched pair, damp wood for their supposed passion. There's more fire to be found in the king's council, where cutthroat political intrigue and the clownish antics of Følsgaard's king make for a comical and captivating chess match.
While Mikkelsen turns in a solid performance, it's the magnificent Følsgaard who turns heads while making them roll.