Movie review: Passion and politics in 'A Royal Affair'

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Palace intrigue abounds – complete with secret passages and sexual conquests – in "A Royal Affair," an absorbing Danish historical drama.

In the late 18th century, the English noblewoman Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) is married off to the flighty King Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) and endures his increasingly aberrant behavior. Things change abruptly with the arrival of the King's new personal physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), a "man of the Enlightenment" who urges Christian toward progressive policies (like ending feudalism) while also romancing Caroline in a torrid affair.

Director/co-writer Nikolaj Arcel drenches the story in period finery and powdered wigs. The film is a showcase for Mikkelsen, known to U.S. audiences as a Bond villain (in "Casino Royale"), who is captivating as Caroline's brooding lover and a political power player.; —


'A Royal Affair'

Opens Wednesday, Nov. 21, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated R for sexual content and some violent images; in Danish with subtitles; 137 minutes.