Sunday, 30 April 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2012: Mads Mikkelsen and Mikkel Følsgaard in A Royal Affair

Mads Mikkelsen and Mikkel Følsgaard did not receive Oscar nominations for portraying Johann Friedrich Struensee and Christian VII of Denmark respectively in A Royal Affair.

A Royal Affair is a terrific period piece following the relationships in the royal court of Denmark during the 18th century.

The film opens following the new Danish Queen, from England, Caroline Matilda (Alicia Vikander) as she goes to begin living with her husband King Christian played by Mikkel Følsgaard who I can best describe as a minor lead. This being because Christian is set up from the start to being mostly a pawn of the other players of the court. Følsgaard in turn presents Christian early on as basically a child a play, though he happens to be at play with all the wealth and resources possible around him. Følsgaard's performance is properly thin and petulant in these early scenes as the film sets up the troubled relationship between the Queen and the King. Følsgaard handles this quite well creating the insufferable state of someone who has always gotten what he wants, as in an early scene where openly criticizes Caroline it is the raving of a brat not a King. Even when Caroline sees Christian going off with a mistress Følsgaard let's out this cat hiss in response that he makes natural because it is so fitting to the man child that is his Christian.

Mads Mikkelsen as the true lead of the film comes in a little later as a foreign doctor Johann who is recruited by former court members hoping to gain favor with the King once again. Johann's method is by becoming the king's personal physician. It's always a good thing to see Mads Mikkelsen in a film it seems even a better thing to see him in a leading role. Mikkelsen is captivating in the role even in his relatively unassuming early scenes, achieving something very important in his personal presentation of the doctor. In that Mikkelsen avoids any stuffy notions of the period or a period piece for that matter, yet he avoids feeling overly modern either. Mikkelsen finds the right balance which he uses to suggest the progressive mind of the man just in his very manner of being. His earliest scenes though are as he goes about finding his way into the good graces of the king. Mikkelsen conducts himself as Johann as sort of the best possible confidant, as he brings a warmth in his interactions though with this certain grace though that keeps him from seeming to be a sycophant.

Følsgaard and Mikkelsen's chemistry is actually very key to the film in the creation of the unique relationship between the two, which isn't as simple as king and servant or even as two friends. Although he does have that warmth of a proper confidant Mikkelsen doesn't make that a meaningless thing. It's this interesting command that Mikkelsen conveys in the relationships as he dominates their interactions with one another. Mikkelsen though is careful in that he in no way portrays this as truly manipulative of the doctor, even though it technically is. He shows the care that Johann gives to the king is genuine but with it he asserts his role of more than just a guardian. Følsgaard in turn again stays very much with his portrayal of the king as more than anything a fool, and in many ways a simple minded man. Følsgaard does not use this to give a one dimensional turn but instead finds truth within this attitude. In that Følsgaard offers the first bits of sympathy for the king by depicting such earnest appreciation in his interactions with the doctor, showing the appreciation the king has for a man who wishes to do what is best for him.

Of course Johann's relationship with the Queen is equally important which begins rather coldly as Caroline views him merely as one of the king's lacking at first. Her opinion changes though when Johann finds a dead commoner. This is a great scene for Mikkelsen as he also uses it to show the viewer essentially the sincerity of Johann beyond a doubt. Mikkelsen brings such a quiet yet powerful passion in portraying the severity of his outrage, yet also the tenderness in treating the dead man. As Mikkelsen carefully shows the wholly genuine humanitarian that is the doctor. Mikkelsen makes the switch in Caroline's view of him convincing yet he and Vikander go further to develop the budding relationship between the two. This is often unsaid yet both effortlessly convey the mutual attraction and affection the two share. Mikkelsen's work though again avoid simplification of turning Johann into some sort of lothario. This is in making the affections honest, but Mikkelsen adds more by having the small hesitation in his moments of showing that love, properly representing the doctor's fear knowing where the affair could lead him, and by doing this he grants the situation a greater meaning.

As Johann gets in greater graces with both the king and queen separately, he earns the disdain of the established power. Johann begins to attempt to improve the plight of the common people by influencing the king and again Mikkelsen excels in these scenes. As he makes Johann's suggestions again not that direct manipulation but instead subtle encouragement for the king to be a better leader. Mikkelsen actually even has this idea of affection in the treatment of the king, showing someone who believes in him. Følsgaard's in turn doesn't portray this extreme change in the king to a smarter man really, the relative simplicity of him is properly a constant in his performance, but what he does do is growth in the king's empathy by the empathy shown for him. Følsgaard's best scene comes when the the established council, where the king beforehand has had no sway, attempts to exile Johann. Følsgaard's terrific in the scene as he is able to depict the way the king finds his confidence just as they try to take away Johann. It's powerful moment as Følsgaard portrays the effort it takes for the king to break out of his usual state.

The king not only prevents Johann's exile but eventually gives him the power to be essentially the de facto leader of Denmark. Where Johann rules by a series of reforms. Mikkelsen, even as Johann seizes absolute power, portrays Johann a man of duty rather than a man of power. Mikkelsen does this by providing not a hint of joy in his success rather always providing the burden as he attempts to do his good while facing severe opposition by the establishment as well as the press that demonizes him. This leads to an early tension when a story tells of Johann's affair with the queen, and Følsgaard's very good in the accusation scene by portraying a controlled anger in the king. In that he reacts with the rage you'd expect though Følsgaard in the rage shows the king attempting to find some way to forget the "lie" by an explanation by Johann. The king receives such, but the rumors persist until a few coup is undertaken by the old guard which leads to the exile of the queen and the execution of Johann.  Følsgaard has little to do in these final moments but uses them. He shows the king reverted back to his weakened state but not as quite the same petulant fool he once was, having learned something from his time with Johann. He brings a somberness reflecting the regret in the king over losing his friend and essentially his kingdom. The highlight of the concluding scenes is the execution. A large part of that being because of Mikkelsen's outstanding portrayal of it. He gives the scenes such a visceral edge, even though we don't see the killing, by so effectively realizing the terribly fear as Mikkelsen physically shows a man just barely holding from breaking down. It is a heartbreaking scene as Mikkelsen presents the sheer devastation in Johann in final moments as he is left with nothing to hold to. Følsgaard's work should not be hand waved as it very good performance within the limitations of king Christian. Mads Mikkelsen though is the standout through his always compelling and complex portrayal of the ill-fated good doctor.

85 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I'm glad you loved it.

Ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: How close was Mikkelsen to a five.

Charles Heiston said...

I knew you'd review Folsgaard here.

At least Mikkelsen will get 1 five this year.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I'm glad you liked both of the leads and loved the film :)
Louis: Your top ten European actors (Excluding British actors)

Michael McCarthy said...

I'm surprised they got the same rating, the review made it seem like Mikkelsen left a much stronger impression on you.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Frankie Valli as a singer.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the band Queen, and of Freddie Mercury as a vocalist.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

And I'll be honest right, when I opened my phone and saw Folgaard being reviewed, I thought a Breaker Morant situation happened xD.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Also, seeing as I have two winning requests stored up, I'd like to request Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Ron Perlman as Clayface, Roddy McDowell as the Mad Hatter, John Glover as the Riddler and Allison LaPlaca as Baby Doll.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: With Mikkelsen's review for The Hunt, I hope you'll use his stare towards Theo in the church for the screenshot at the beginning of the review.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: Was thinking the exact same thing. That entire scene is perfection and probably one of my favorite acting moments ever.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the psychedelic party scene from Midnight Cowboy.

Calvin Law said...

Louis could Jeremy Renner go up for The Town and Kill the Messenger?

Luke Higham said...

Does anyone apart from myself and Charles think Mikkelsen will make the top 10 for A Royal Affair.

Alex Marqués said...

Luke: I think he has a strong chance

Luke Higham said...

This review felt very close to a five for me.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I also think it's possible for him to get in the top ten. This guy is an underrated actor who deserves more leading roles.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I hope we'll see him in more Scandinavian dramas sooner rather than later because I fear that Hollywood will typecast him for the remainder of his career, unless a world-class director gives him an opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I think I know when the Pokemon anime will end. When they stop making videogames, of course.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: It will NEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR DIEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Charles Heiston said...

Anonymous: I doubt it will end.

Anonymous said...

Luke: If that's the case, then that sucks. I feel so bad for the voice actors.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I don't feel that bad for them, they're still being paid at the end of the day.

Matt Mustin said...

I feel bad for the original voice actors (Veronica Taylor, Eric Stuart, etc.) for the way they got screwed over for the new cast.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Does anyone feel that if The Hunt were in English, Mikkelsen would have received the awards traction he deserved?

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: Probably.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: While I did like Pokémon as a kid, I do have to say that after 20 freaking seasons with the same lackluster storyline and boring characters, it needs to die.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: I'm with you. I never understood why they couldn't just develop Ash as a character for about 5-6 seasons and give him an appropriate sendoff, then move on to someone else.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: The moral of the story is, if you're a game developer/franchise creator, it's easier to make a profit by creating avatars people project themselves onto instead of real characters with arcs. Also massively helps to have a merchandising gimmick.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: Fair enough, even though I hate that philosophy.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Nice background.

mcofra7 said...

What is the background?

Luke Higham said...

Mcofra7: I think it's the shanghai fight scene in Skyfall.

Matthew Cofrancesco said...

Luke: You're right

Charles Heiston said...

This background is awesome. Nice one Louis.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

This background is brilliant <3

Luke Higham said...

This background will take some getting use to, because I really liked the original for it's simplicity yet looked quite professional as well. I've no problems with the change though and it probably needed a freshening up at some point.

Anonymous said...

I love the new background. :)
Luke: I kind of prefer the new background over the old. It has a lot more detail, which I like.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I like the change too. I'm so used to the old one though that it's gonna take time for me to like the new one even more.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

The old one has been up since 2010 though, so RIP that blue background :/
Louis: What compelled you to change the background after so long.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Vikander - 4.5(A very good performance that compliments both of her co-stars in her properly more complex relationship with Mikkelsen and the one more defined by a great deal of disdain with Følsgaard. Vikander's performance though does well as she manages to find her impact within the film even though the queen is often the secondary character in terms of the court politics. Vikander though grants the right sense of presence to the role though in offering the right incisiveness in portraying Caroline's disdain towards the king and the love towards Johann. She's particularly strong later on as she offers a gradual change in the marriage based relationship showing the way she comes accustom to the arrangement for the most part, then though is devastating as she depicts the queen essentially dying herself when Johann is executed.)

Dryholm - 3.5(Though not much focus is paid to her, it really does focus most strongly on the main three, she is good though in being the cold mother as she conveys the way that her character more of analyzes her son for her own control then ever appreciates him, and shows that she is always very much the player of the court through her proper yet oh so venomous remarks.)

Dencik - 2.5(Having seen a few performances of his he always gives very similair turns, overtly so I'd say. He's fine here but doesn't really make much of an impact.)

He was close.

Tahmeed:

I'll assume non-Irish as well.

Unranked since I still have a great deal to see.

Max von Sydow
Mads Mikkelsen
Alain Delon
Javier Bardem
Matthias Schoenaerts
Jean Gabin
Peter Lorre
Oskar Werner
Klaus Kinski
Pierre Fresnay

Felt it was time for a little bit of a change.

Charles:

Due to my earlier rejection of Luke's non-film song requests I'll like him as a singer, and Queen/Freddie Mercury for that matter.

Probably my least favorite scene of the film honestly as its very dated to 1969 and not in a good way.

Anonymous:

Perlman - (Hearing Perlman's voice is always a good thing really and that's no exceptions here. I like sort of the actor's ego he manages to bring into his Clayface even when he's just the big monster. He grants him a bit more humanity of sorts although Perlman makes it less appealing humanity to be sure, though in a good way.)

McDowell - (Perfect casting really after his turn as the bookworm in the original 60's series. Anyway though McDowell's work is indeed perfect in the way he grants this sort of elegance to his performance so fitting to a good recitation of Alice, while he does still infuse that with a more overt, and less refined anger showing really the creep beneath it all.)

Glover - (Although the series never seemed to know what to do with Riddler I did like Glover's performance as he brought the right sort of joy of performance so to speak in that he showed that the Riddler loves getting a riddle over Batman's head even more so than being successful in his plot.)

LaPlaca - (Though that episode is hardly a favorite of mine her performance is very good in that she manages to find the nuance past doing just sort of the psychotic little girl by playing with essentially playing with the maturity of her voice to reveal the pathos behind the act.)

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I'm pleased you liked Vikander as well. :)

Anonymous said...

Louis: This background is way better, it also makes the Mifune scores look clearer.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I agree on that. The 5 star rating pictures were always slightly cut off on the right hand side on the original background.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What are your winners for 1984.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

1984 Winners:

Director: Milos Foreman - Amadeus
Production Design: Amadeus
Sound Editing: The Terminator
Sound Mixing: Nightmare on Elm Street
Score: Once Upon a Time in America
Editing: Amadeus
Visual Effects: Dune
Costume Design: Amadeus
Cinematography: Paris, Texas
Makeup and Hairstyling: Amadeus
Adapted Screenplay: Amadeus
Original Screenplay: Paris, Texas

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Thoughts on Silicon Valley S04E02.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Apart from All The Way, which television films have you seen from this decade so far.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Always surprised by their ability again to keep the plot itself compelling. Technically more importantly for the show though was it was hilarious particularly Dinesh in obnoxious CEO form, and Gavin Belson with his competing sycophants.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I think only Game Change.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on the cast.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Out of the four seasons of Batman TAS, which one would you say was the most consistent in good episodes?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: In terms of overall quality, what would you say are the ten strongest television seasons that you've seen.

Charles Heiston said...

I'd say this background is better, but of course it'll take some time to get used to it.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could I have your thoughts on Stephen Toblolowsky, Matt McCoy and Chris Diamantopoulos's performances on Silicon Valley?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Moore - 4.5(The film itself is a bit like Man on the Moon in that much of it could be reassembled using actual clips, and the scenes outside of that are fairly lacking in terms of actual depth. Moore though does excel within even those confines of the role. She manages to embody without seeming just an imitation which again is remarkable again given the weak writing at hand. Moore matches and surpasses what is given to her here as she manages to be more than a sketch representation though I don't think the writing really goes that much further than that. The outside of clips scenes are rather repetitive, she's either upset or being stupid, yet Moore does find nuance in her works where she can and this is very good performance even when working with subpar material at times.)

Harrelson - 4.5(Harrelson's very good here as the political campaign manager. Harrelson's work is a very important grounding factor for the film and does a great job of at least finding some variety of his scenes where he's often just face palming to the next crisis. Harrelson though manages to make a character within this as he is compelling in the scenes of those frustrations but he does well in the moments where he attempts to build her up actually granting the right warmth to his manager who is trying to make things work best he can. He is able to bring an emotional weight to his character's attempt at a success despite everything he is going against.)

Harris - 4.5(Harris does surprisingly well in not making the McCain's mannerisms not seem absurd. He actually makes them completely natural in his performance by never overdoing them. His role is also limited to basically being the senior statesman who the film only cuts to do be dignified most of the time. Harris does this very well though in adding the gravitas to his "Old story" speeches and offers an effective sympathetic presence through his performance.)

Paulson - 2.5(I did not find there to be anything notable about her performance and found she was a little awkward even at times.)

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Most consistent season 2 I suppose in it has the least bad. Season 1 has the highest count of good episodes though.

Luke:

1. The Simpsons Season 4
2. The Simpsons Season 5
3. Breaking Bad Season 3
4. Fargo Season 2
5. Seinfeld Season 7
6. Seinfeld Season 8
7. Breaking Bad Season 4
8. Breaking Bad Season 2
9. The Honeymooners
10. The Simpsons Season 6

Tahmeed:

Toblolowsky - (I have to admit at first I was hoping he would merely stay the good CEO he was in the first episode. Later on though he became enjoyably insufferable as he captures that particularly obnoxious way of speaking where he somehow always speaks only about what he cares about in such positive terms, yet everything else seems to be merely an overly painful nuisance to him.)
Diamantopoulos - (Consistently hilarious in just being the scummiest human being possible while having absolutely no shame about it whatsoever. He manages almost to be endearing in his scummy behavior someone which is rather something to be sure as he brings this strange naivety to every deplorable thing he says, as though he almost doesn't know any better. I particularly love the scene in season 2 where he so somberly shows Richard his gift car that he bought for himself after finally being stood up to.)

McCoy - (I hope he makes another appearance this season because his four appearances overall have not been enough. McCoy though has been hilarious in each one of his appearances by actually being a respectable lawyer in terms of his performance, particularly in his scene where he breaks Erlich down in court that is worthy of a classic courtroom drama. He of course subverts that in a very amusing fashion by bringing such a strong undercurrent of palatable shame fitting to a man with a far less than noble act. I love the way he speaks like a lawyer even when naming his misdeeds.)

Robert MacFarlane said...

I saw The Circle. This could have worked as some sort of dark satire. Instead it's technophobic hand-wringing. Hanks and Gillan were good, though. Ellar Coltrane was lol.

Calvin Law said...

People have been hyperbolic in saying that Coltrane gives the worst performance in a long time.

Louis: would Like Wilson be an actor who you think could be potentially great if given a substantial enough role?

Luke Higham said...

*Luke Wilson

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Based on the Royal Tenenbaums I'd say yes.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could I have more detailed thoughts on A Royal Affair.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Calvin: Believe the hyperbole, Coltrane is comically bad. His line readings are like a parody of 90's Keanu Reeves. It makes his Boyhood performance look like Olivier. Also, his last scene is unintentionally hysterical (though not because of his acting).

Charles Heiston said...

And it's quite amazing how he got award garner for Boyhood.

94dfk1 said...

I remember Ellar being bland during the last 40 or so minutes of Boyhood, though he was good before that.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I mean, I didn't hate him per-say in Boyhood, though his performance seemed to get worse over the course of the movie. Weirdly it's because he started showing a personality, and that personality was irritatingly douchey. I actually think it would have been better for the film's narrative gimmick if he stayed a blank slate the entire movie so the audience could project onto him.

Charles Heiston said...

Robert: I completely agree with that.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Boyhood is a weird film for me. So many things I liked, so many things I didn't, so much in between.

John Smith said...

Louis, your thoughts on the Simpson episode "Ralph Loves Lisa''.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Dark Tower trailer.

Luke Higham said...

The wait for this upcoming review is excruciating, yet the longer it takes, the more chance of Louis calling it an all-time great performance.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis and everyone else: What would you say is your favorite poem? Mine would be Frost's 'The Road Not Taken'.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: The review of Mikkelsen's performance seems like a perfect gift for the weekend :) (I do hope it comes as soon as possible). It is a performance that you know rather instantly to be great, but need time to take in and ruminate why.

Calvin Law said...

Tahmeed: Bright Star by John Keats.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: I have a few. Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas, If by Rudyard Kipling and Invictus by William Ernest Henley.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Louis what did you think of Molly Price in Feud? I thought she was surprisingly moving in her small role.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on "To Find You" and "Go Now" from Sing Street.

Charles Heiston said...

I don't read a lot of poems, but "The Raven" by Poe is pretty good.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Could Melvyn Douglas go up for I Never Sang for My Father.

94dfk1 said...

Everyone: Whilst we wait patiently for the review for Mikkelsen in the Hunt, who would you cast in a 2010s all-female remake of Heat? (For lulz but also kind of serious here.) I'm actually curious as to how it would look. I'm already thinking Emily Blunt as Shiherlis' part.

Calvin Law said...

Sigourney Weaver in De Niro's part and Frances McDormand in Pacino's.

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: I like McDormand in Pacino's part, since she's proven she can play that type of outspoken police officer. I think Julianne Moore in De Niro's part and Cate Blanchett in Pacino's could also work.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design of Hamlet (1996).

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Well more detailed would be that I thought the film was an excellent way of how you do a period piece essentially. In that it never gets caught up with the costumes or becomes overly stodgy because of them. There's a life to the material as it focuses on revealing each of the central historical figures as people not just historical representations. It's modern in a good way. It does not try to enforce that idea just modern in that it feels that you could meet these people at least in terms of their personalities. It also makes the court intrigue itself compelling while balancing it with the emotional characters behind it.

Hey same director and everything. I wish that could give me more faith as Foreign directors can lose it in the transition. I actually thought the trailer looked decent. A little generic visually but not overly so. Not sure about McConaughey yet, emphasize the yet. Elba though looks like he's finally gotten a role in a big budget film that suits his abilities. Also any trailer that uses the Chimes from For A Few Dollars More will be on my good side.

John Smith:

Love that episode, although almost every episode is a knock out in those seasons. The episode itself is hilarious particularly Krusty's less than stellar performance as a host, the use of the Monster Mash and the hammy Rex Harrison student actor. The episode though is surprisingly moving actually in depicting Ralph's story, and ends on a rather heartfelt note.

Tahmeed:

"Ozymandias"

To Find You - (Love this song though as it is such an emotional ballad, featuring perhaps Walsh-Peelo best vocal performance. The combination of the vocals and the single relatively simple piano chords result in such a powerful combination. The lyrics here though are particularly poignant and match so well its purpose within the film.)

Go Now - (This is one where I actually didn't care for it in the film, too modern of a sound I felt for the film. Listening on its own though it actually is pretty good on its own. I will say its structure isn't quite perfect as the chorus second section is perhaps too repetitive. The first half and outro though are rather powerful with its subtle orchestration.)

Giuseppe:

I thought she was fine but I have to admit she did not make too much of an impression on me.

Charles:

He could.