Chicago International Film Festival 2012 A Royal Affair Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel Cast: Alicia Viklander, Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard Running Time: 2 hrs 18 minutes Rating: R Release Date: November 2012 (Chicago)
PLOT: In 1760s Denmark, a woman (Viklander) married to a wild king (Følsgaard) falls for his politically radical physician (Mikkelsen). The two lovers conspire to manipulate the king into embracing the ideas of the Enlightenment.
WHO'S IT FOR? Those who enjoy a good, non-fictional political thriller — especially one with unbelievable plot turns.
If you're going to see one movie this year about the Age of Enlightenment in Denmark in the late 1760s, make certain it is A Royal Affair, as co-written and directed by Nikolaj Arcel, who some might recognize as the screenwriter for the original version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo adaptation. For those keeping score at home, Lars von Trier also is credited as an executive producer for the movie, and apparently was a script consultant as well.
And before one's attention for this movie is lost to shoulder shrugs or indifference to seeing a potentially stuffy period piece, it's important to express that this film has a prominent modern feel, its aesthetics enlivened by the usage of handheld cameras, slightly contemporary dialogue, and slick editing. As Arcel is one to claim himself, A Royal Affair is certainly set in a distinctive period, but it is assembled cinematically like a modern drama. A largely compelling component to this tale is to witness the struggle of ideas — the film's title subject is only something that is explored in subplot. These are all wise choices by Arcel, as the story lacks self-importance, its tale becoming timeless and relatable to any political event in which transitional thought and conservative methods have clashed in the battle for power.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10