A Royal Affair

Not unreasonably Denmark’s official bid for a foreign-language Oscar nod, director Nikolaj Arcel’s film amounts to a righteous retrospective endorsement of Enlightenment philosophy, nicely seasoned with secret love among the wigs and candles. It’s the 18th century, and young king Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) seems to be losing his mind. So he gets a personal physician (Mads Mikkelsen), whose freethinking values and attraction to the queen (Alicia Vikander) only make matters rather movieishly more complicated. It’s supposed to seem tragic, and is, almost; there’s never a moment of not seeing where this is going, but some slow-burn pleasure in the getting there. Mikkelson shows his usual knack for brooding silence, Vikander commands the frame with watchful glinting eyes, and Følsgaard neatly finesses his pathos. As disturbed-royals docudramas go, this one is less shrewdly literate than The Madness of King George, but captivating in its own right, and lovely to look at.