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A Royal Affair 

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel

Denmark, 2012

Cornerhouse, 18 June 2012

Thought provoking drama, flawless acting and beautifully composed cinematography – this is a very fine film indeed.

It tells the story of how an Enlightenment intellectual befriended the King of Denmark and his queen, thereby changing that nation’s social policies and, ultimately, the nature of its politics.

There is a love triangle, a genuine one, and plenty of political intrigue but what’s remarkable about the film is the way in which it conveys the conflict between the liberal policies of a disciple of Voltaire and the vested interests of the church and the nobility.  Doctor Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) is a physician in the mould of Semmelweis, as well as being a liberal reformer, and that’s what gives him his authority.

The film is not without its cruel and poignant ironies, especially in the final moments, where the man who had battled and argued hard for the people’s rights is met by a baying mob.

This is the best film of the year so far.