Monday, August 5, 2013

Movie Review: A Royal Affair

It has been, what seems too long in my mind since I have had a movie to review. Thank goodness for the Danish film, A Royal Affair, which came out last year and even won an Oscar for best foreign film.  It tells the story of  that old tart, Queen Caroline Matilda (sister to King George III) and her (royal) affair with Dr Struensee.  It had to be spicy and scandalous and good, right? Right?  Sigh...I have to admit, I didn't quite care for it.  Perhaps it was mostly because I felt I had seen it before?
Wait, haven't we seen gossiping at court dinner tables in the beginning of a film before?

The movie begins with young Caroline excited about the prospect of being Queen of Denmark.  After riding in a beautiful carriage she meets the king in the woods of her new home country and the initial meeting between the couple is awkward, but Caroline tries to ignore it.  When they arrive at the palace the king jumps out of the carriage to shower affection on his dog.  Upon her arrival, Caroline is robbed of her precious books and told they have plenty, more suitable Danish books for her to read.  Is it just me, or does this sound like a mash up of The Duchess and Marie Antoinette?  There was even the same camera shot of a birds-eye view of the carriage going under and arch to enter what would be Caroline's new home.
Oh Christian, you so crazy

Like Marie Anotinette and Georgiana, the enthusiastic young Caroline finds herself miserable in marriage, complete with problems in the bedroom, distance in the relationship, and as an added bonus, a mild bout of royal insanity.  However when the dangerous Rousseau-reading Dr S enters the picture the king's schizophrenic episodes subside under his guidance and a strong friendship blooms between the two men.  Soon the lonely queen also succumbs to the doctor's charms and the two use the king as a puppet to pass their enlightened improvements to the country.  Obviously, this can't last.

Bath time is when queens get to delve into self-reflection
Oh but it does! On and on and on, continues the dull tale.  Now I love this century and its scandalous women but can't we find a different tale to tell? I was disappointed that Georgiana's affair is what her biopic chose to focus on when she has such and exciting and multifaceted life.  A Royal Affair is an example of this same sad storyline being done to death in a short period of film-making.  The interesting aspect, in my humble opinion, is the relationship between the doctor and his royal patient and how the king's mental instability was handled; or in reality, ignored as if it wasn't actually happening while Caroline's own brother was strapped into a straight jacket in England around the same time.  The overbearing dowager queen too, such a forceful figure in the actual historical event is pushed to remain a shadowing figure waiting in the wings.  I think fashion buffs will also be disappointed by the jumping anachronistic costumes and the absolute lack of hair powder on the women.  But maybe Denmark was different (I don't think Denmark was different).

One big happy, menage a trois

Overall the movie had some good qualities but this eighteenth-century biopic just wasn't going to do it for me! Time for something new, original, and of course, fabulous.

6 comments:

  1. They really ought to film Candide... Who would play her best?

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  2. Thank you for the review. I am going to watch it.

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  3. @balsamfir- I'm not aquainted enough with the great novel to have an opinion! Who would you pick?

    @Aurora- I'll be curious to see what you think!

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  4. My bad for posting too late at night. I meant to write Moll Flanders, but the wrong title slipped out. I haven't read more than a few pages of Candide either. I was thinking of the lively comedy of a young woman trying to get ahead in the world through various questionable means...

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  5. Hmmm that's a tough one because you want a sassy young actress who doesn't verge on annoying.

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  6. Based on your review, the disappointment awaiting me is that it has a resemblance to "Marie Antoinette" which is tragic because that movie was horrible and an affront to acting.

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