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"Jeu de chiennes" stages a dinner. Around the table, three young women engaged in a real cold war. Lisa, the lover, waits for her man wisely; Alicia, the rebel, blames her for lack of ... See full summary »
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Lena B. Nilsson,
Fyr Thorvald Strömberg
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Kristian A. Söderström
In 1767, the British Princess Caroline is betrothed to the mad King Christian VII of Denmark, but her life with the erratic monarch in the oppressive country becomes an isolating misery. However, Christian soon gains a fast companion with the German Dr. Johann Struensee, a quietly idealistic man of the Enlightenment. As the only one who can influence the King, Struensee is able to begin sweeping enlightened reforms of Denmark through Christian even as Caroline falls for the doctor. However, their secret affair proves a tragic mistake that their conservative enemies use to their advantage in a conflict that threatens to claim more than just the lovers as their victims.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, starring in this Danish film, portrayed a character who was a German doctor. See more »
Juliane Marie tells the servants that if they know about the affair and try to conceal it, it's a mortal sin and they will end up in purgatory. The danish religious view in the 18th century was Lutheran protestantism, which denies the presence of purgatory. See more »
[writing a letter]
I'm trying to remember him. Johann. I have to tell you about him. About us. Why we did the things we did.
My beloved children, you do not know me, but I am your mother. Perhaps you have never forgiven me. Perhaps you hate me. I hope not. I now know that I will never see you again, so I am writing to tell you the truth, before it's too late.
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You could dismiss this film as a Danish history lesson but it is more than that. It is a love story with an improbable background in a rather gloomy setting, the Danish Court of the late 18th century. Mad (or at least seriously disturbed) King Christian VII (Mikkel Folsgaard - superbe) marries 16 year old English princess Caroline (Alicia Vikander) who happens to be George III's sister). He prefers the company of his dog and mistress to her. It is not surprising that Caroline falls for Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) who becomes the king's personal physician on the strength of his knowledge of Shakespeare (especially Hamlet). The king is, as they say, easily led, and for a year or so Sturensee, despite being German, has a fine time as de facto ruler enacting liberal measures such as the abolition of serfdom and the repeal of censorship laws, not to mention free smallpox inoculations. But the forces of reaction led by the king's stepmother gather. It was surprising to learn that 18th century Denmark was such a backward society.
Mads Mikkelsen gives a nuanced performance – 'quiet intensity' in fact, and Alicia Vikander is equally intense. They are a serious couple imbued with the ideals of the 18th century Enlightenment but their passion is physical as well as intellectual. Unfortunately their ideals are a little advanced for Denmark of the 1770s despite support from writers such as Voltaire. The local book-burners led by Hoegh-Guldberg (David Dencik) are not swayed by argument of course.
The production is full of atmosphere. The castles are suitably gloomy and there's plenty of medieval squalor beyond the castle gate. Much of the action takes place in winter which adds to the chilly atmosphere. The aristocracy are suitably heartless and the peasants downtrodden. The king provides some zany (if not quite authentic) moments, appointing his Great Dane to his council and ordering Struensee to make Caroline a "fun queen".
This is quite a long movie at 140 minutes yet is enthralling from start to finish. Even though you can guess the ending you are swept along by the story and the performances. You can see why the audiences at Cannes loved it.
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