Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Royal Affair (2012)

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film - Denmark

Yes, you read that right, the entire nation of Denmark was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Due to an odd and controversial rule in the Academy's bylaws, each country may submit one film to be considered for the Foreign Language category, and the Oscar is given to the country that submitted the winning film (though the director of the film accepts the trophy).

Alicia Vikander kissing Mads Mikkelsen
Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen in A Royal Affair.
Photo Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
For the 85th Academy Award, Denmark chose to submit A Royal Affair, a telling of one of the most interesting events in Denmark's history, the affair between Queen Caroline Mathilde, the daughter of the Prince of Wales and wife to King Christian VII of Denmark and Norway, and Johann Struensee, the king's personal physician.  The affair, born out of a loveless marriage between Caroline and the unstable Christian, predictably sets off a chain of events that leads to tragedy for all involved.

Danish language aside, A Royal Affair feels like many of the films produced by the BBC, and there wasn't much terribly original about the film.  The story is told in a straightforward manner with little to distract from the story.  Mads Mikkelsen was the best I have seen him, though admittedly I have not seen any of his previous Danish film or television work.  Alicia Vikander has an intriguing quality about her, but her performance felt flat and a bit lifeless.  Mikkel Folsgaard has the showiest role in the film as Christian, yet while he fully embraces the mental instability of the character, he pulls back just enough to keep his character from descending into a parody, and allows his character to show growth and empathy while still demonstrating a childish lack of comprehension.  A Royal Affair was Folsgaard's first feature film, and he has a very promising career ahead of him.

The story of the pseudo-love triangle between Christian, Caroline, and Struensee is a fascinating one, and the filmmakers rightly realized that there is enough at the root of the story to make embellishment unnecessary.  This film should appeal to anyone who loves a good BBC romantic tragedy.

Remaining: 3149 films, 872 Oscars, 5409 nominations

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