Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jan 17, 2013
    Although the brazen lovers, bellicose ministers and backstabbing handmaidens are familiar elements, the film is so handsomely mounted that we happily endure the ride until the turning of the screws in the tragic last act.
  2. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Dec 6, 2012
    Writers Rasmus Heisterberg and Nicolaj Arcel are known in America for the original version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." This film is the exact opposite: stately instead of propulsive, emotionally warm instead of chilly, lit by candles and sun instead of flashlights and neon.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 29, 2012
    Takes a fascinating chapter in Danish history, little-known to general audiences, and presents it engagingly.
  4. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 15, 2012
    Historical drama of the highest order - teeming with big ideas, and anchored by the nicely nuanced performances of Vikander and Mikkelsen.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 8, 2012
    With its sumptuous settings, urgent romance and intellectual substance, A Royal Affair is a mind-opener crossed with a bodice-ripper.
  6. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Nov 8, 2012
    While it's lavish and lush in all the expected costume-drama ways, A Royal Affair never bogs down in period detail. What drives the film, along with great acting, is the appetite of director Nikolaj Arcel and his boisterous co-writer Rasmus Heisterberg ("I want a fun queen!" wails Christian) for the queasy workings of political gamesmanship both above and below board.
  7. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Nov 7, 2012
    Newcomer Følsgaard is the wild card, but he manages to make the king both villain and victim, sometimes a vindictive schemer, at others far-eyed and helpless, a puppet for the forces behind him.
  8. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Nov 7, 2012
    A big budget historical drama that carries Denmark's hopes into the Oscar season. It provides still more exposure for the rising Danish star Mads Mikkelsen, the latest male sex symbol of the art house crowd.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 35 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 9
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 9
  3. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. Nov 13, 2012
    Near perfection. A historical romance/drama (maybe even a twisted coming of age tale) that never seems laughable or dull. Each of the main characters are complex and given their fair portrayals. Every motivation seems remarkably human and understandable, even if cringe-worthy. It did feel a little long, but that was its only flaw. Beautifully shot, acted, edited, scored, everything. Full Review »
  2. Lyn
    Mar 25, 2014
    Can't get enough of Mads Mikkelsen, who was so riveting in Oscar-nominated "The Hunt" (2013) and so riveting here as well. This was a nicely told period piece that may bring a couple of others to mind at times -- "Marie Antoinette" in the young queen's situation; "Amadeus" with the somewhat crazy young king and the palace treachery. Danish history probably isn't high on everyone's list, but this was an interesting film. Full Review »
  3. Dec 31, 2013
    A historical lesson from a period drama about the age of the Enlightenment in Denmark, a national revolution conducted by a German foreigner Dr. Johann Struensee (Mikkelsen) and his romantic involvement with Caroline Mathilde (Vikander), the Queen of King Christian VII (Boe Følsgaard), another exemplar of how arranged marriage really sucks!

    A ROYAL AFFAIR is an Oscar BEST FOREIGN PICTURE nominee, a sumptuous production (art direction, costume etc.) for the eyes and an irresistible bait for period fanatics (count me in). Intriguingly, it is not a conventional love triangle since there is no love at all between Caroline and Christian from the very first sight, once Caroline bears their son and fulfills her obligation as a Queen, their connubiality is only a token guise while Caroline and Johann are the star-crossed lovers, but their romantic rapport surprisingly has been outshone by Christian’s devout friendship towards Johann, it is a territory many historical pictures dare not to explore, Christian is a one-of-a-kind character, a mad king or a spoiled child, his mentality is so capricious and unpredictable (maybe thanks to the excessive masturbation), thus whenever he is on screen, the attention all turns to him, even an actor as excellent as Mikkelsen cannot turn back the tide, and the newcomer Boe Følsgaard owns the character out-and-out. He is a lonely king in desperate need of a true friend and when he finds Johann, their mutual interest in theatre connects resoundingly and from then on, Christian confides his unconditional obedience to Johann, allows him to govern the country and execute the avant-garde revolution against all odds, even Caroline, when he finally finds out their adultery, is expendable in trade of maintaining the status quo with Johann (it is hard not to divine maybe there is something more than friendship lies beneath the surface).

    But their immature reformation is intrinsically ephemeral, Johann is not a qualified politician as his overhasty actions boomerang, he loses his allies easily, what’s more fatal is the scandal puts him against the whole nation (having an affair and even a daughter with the Queen), and gives his rivals a too-grand opportunity to annihilate him, his only chance is Christian, but at this moment, who is just a puppet king completely beaten up. Mikkelsen is exceedingly captivating in the final scenes when he realizes his doom is inevitable, he gives incredible nuances as a man’s ultimate fear when death awaits mercilessly. Internationally acclaimed Dyrholm and Dencik (if one can recall their idiosyncratic collaboration in A SOAP 2006, 8/10) are cast as the King’s stepmother and her conservative aide, not too much screen time though but Dyrholm eludes a more accessible intensity instead of the corny evil stepmother default.

    Anyhow, the film is a delight output from Denmark, a tinge protracted one may complain and the powerlessness to witness goodwill goes to perish is also disheartening, but as a fine piece of art, defects cannot obscure the splendor and the virtues.
    Full Review »