A Royal Affair

Rated 3.0

This handsomely appointed costume drama from Denmark mixes romance and court politics in a gently melodramatic account of a pivotal phase in the country’s movement toward a republican form of government in the 18th century. In his role as physician to King Christian VII, the German Dr. Johann Friedrich Struensee brings Enlightenment thinking to the hidebound Danish court, which contributes eventually to Denmark’s bloodshed-free variation on the French Revolution. But the real drama here derives from a politically fraught romantic triangle involving Struensee, the buffoonishly immature King, and his young English-born Queen Caroline Mathilde. Struensee (played by Euro heartthrob Mads Mikkelsen) is both inspirational mentor to the young, beleaguered King Christian (a farcical Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) and lover to the vivacious but grossly neglected Queen (Alicia Vikander). The tumultuous triangular relationship leads to personal calamity for all three but with happier long-term outcomes, especially in the political arena. The ruthlessly scheming courtiers are sketched as credible caricatures, and the central threesome makes strong individual impressions. But the script (based on a novel by Bodil Steensen-Leth and adapted by director Nikolaj Arcel and co-writer Rasmus Heisterberg) leaves little room for any real character development. Pageant Theatre. Rated R.