Friday, 29 June 2012

A Royal Affair,The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and A Dangerous Method

Set in the 18th century A Royal Affair is a romanticised telling of the marriage of Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) and the mentally ill king Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Følsgaard). The king’s use of whores and excessive drinking leads to the queen (Caroline) to fall in a doomed love affair with the King’s new physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), who uses his close relationship with the king to bring about positive reforms in the country. A Royal Affair is almost seductive in its glorious cinematography (shot by Rasmus Videbæk) and excellent costume and set designs. The performances from the whole cast are terrific, Mads Mikkelsen and Mikkel Følsgaard in particular. However the passionate romantic aspects (the central part of the story) are not quite as interesting as the political aspects of Struensee‘s rise to power and his backtracking on policies he has made in the past to maintain that power by censoring harmful material that may lead Denmark back into its old ways of government. It does drag out its ending somewhat, but the film so visually brilliant and well told by director Nikolaj Arcel that A Royal Affair is a period drama that almost reaches the heights of The Remains of the Day.


Based on the novel entitled These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach director John Madden’s film focuses on seven pensioners who relocate to India for a number of different reasons (hip replacement, desire to do something different, meet an old friend etc).  Consisting of Judy Dench, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson the ensemble cast will be very familiar to British audiences (as well as others); naturally they all do a super job in keeping the film a leisurely and fun experience. With so many characters it can be difficult to be completely engaged in all of their different stories and there is an attempt to make all the characters equally interesting but it is not entirely successful. For example Graham’s (Tom Wilkinson) rather touching story is far more interesting than Norman’s (Ronald Pickup), of whom the film’s narrative has devoted little time to. The plot slackens occasionally when dealing with the different story arcs and it tends to dabble in predictable cliches and sterotypes, but the characters are mostly an engaging and enjoyable bunch and the performances exceptional enough to make The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel agreeable and charming entertainment.


Best known in some quarters as the film in which Keira Knightley gets spanked by Michael Fassbender, David Cronenberg’s most recent venture will never be regarded as his greatest. Cronenberg directs Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of John Kerr’s nonfiction book, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein which basis itself around a new, revolutionary method of psychoanalysis drafted by Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). The film also tells of Freud’s relationship with Carl Jung (Fassbender) as well as Jung’s relationship with Sabina Spielrein (Knightley), who is a patient of Jung’s thus causing Jung to break the rules. The most problematic issue with A Dangerous Method is that Jung’s and Spielrein’s love affair is devoid of passion. Both Fassbender and Knightley are lacking in chemistry making Jung’ and Spielrein’s romantic relationship tedious. Their individual performances are not too great either as Knightley fails to pull off a demanding role due to her wayward Russian accent and a rather odd habit of sticking out her jaw which makes it appear as though she is possessed by a demonic sprit. Surprisingly Knightley’s costar, Michael Fassbender, delivers a rather uninspired turn as he seems to look almost bored by proceedings. On the other hand Mortensen and Vincent Cassel give good performances in supporting roles as the history of psychoanalysis is far more compelling than Jung’s love affair with his patient which, sadly, is never greatly interesting.


1 comment:

  1. I was pleasantly surprised by The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Haven't seen the other two, but despite your 4/5 for A Royal Affair, it doesn't sound like my kind of thing.