I recently came down with strep throat so I haven’t been functioning properly for a while (hoping I can make it to work tomorrow). A few days ago in a feverish haze I watched two historical romances, Belle and A Royal Affair.
When I first turned on Netflix this was the first film I saw and I chose it immediately as it was highly recommended by Ruth of flixchatter.net. I really enjoyed the film and it helped take me out of my misery. “Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing” (taken from Rotten Tomatoes).
I love Historical fiction novels, so naturally this film was right up my alley. The sets and cinematography are gorgeous. The acting in the film is all around brilliant, particularly Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sam Reid (as John Davinier) and Tom Wilkinson. Gugu is definitely an actress to watch in the future. She makes Dido sympathetic, but not to the point of being pitiful. She also has great chemistry with Sam and her scenes with Tom are quite touching. Belle feels refreshing because of its unique perspective. It all felt quite new, which is a very difficult feat in this genre. The romance is quite conventional, but the chemistry between the leads still makes it enjoyable. 8/10.
A Royal Affair (2012)
Immediately after Belle finished Netflix suggested I watch A Royal Affair, a Danish film about Denmark during the Enlightenment and the romance between the Queen and the King’s personal doctor. I’ve been wanting to watch this film for a while as I really like both leads, Mads Mikkelsen (as Dr. Johann Struensee) and Alicia Vikander (Queen Caroline). Overall the film is good, but it has a few faults that prevent it from being great.
First of all, I didn’t enjoy Alicia as the protagonist. Her character is kind of unsympathetic (although her husband is a real asshole). I found her performance bland and there wasn’t much range to her performance. She simply isn’t charismatic enough to carry the film. She’s okay at the beginning as the naïve new girl in town. But she doesn’t convey the maturity that is need later on in the film, as a few years go by. It isn’t so much her looks, it’s just Alicia’s acting and presence don’t work here. Mads Mikkelsen is good as always, he’s quite perfect in his role. Charismatic, funny, intelligent, and sympathetic. But the romance between Johann and Caroline was not believable at all. This is in part because of the difference in maturity between the two (why would Johann fall in love with such a seemingly little girl?). And also Mads and Alicia have no chemistry. Zero. Zip. I couldn’t root for the couple because there wasn’t much to their relationship other than sex and some discussion of the Enlightenment.
A Royal Affair is surprisingly funny quite often. This is mostly because of the King, Christian VII (as played by Mikkel Boe Følsgaard). The King has a mental illness of some kind so he acts strangely and he is very blunt. Watching him was quite fun because you never know what he is going to do next. As the film progresses he turns from a character the audience hates into someone more sympathetic. He is a man that should never have been King.
A Royal Affair is pleasant enough, but ultimately it lacks sizzle. It is a pretty stereotypical historical drama, so if you’re into that you’ll like it, but if not then skip it. 7/10
Instead of posting the trailers for these films (which you have the power to Google anyways) I’m going to post this incredibly funny and interesting interview with Tom Wilkinson. He is an amazing actor that does not get enough credit.