A ROYAL AFFAIR ★★★ OUT OF FOUR STARS
Rated: R for sexual content and some violent images. In subtitled Danish, French, German, and English.
The best film about 18th-century Danish politics you will see this week. Dashing Mads Mikkelsen plays German doctor Johann Friedrich Struensee, a freethinker brought into the corrupt royal court to tend to mad King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, who rants up a stark raving storm). The poor but sexy doctor also offers his services to lovely young Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander) if you get my drift, and I think you do. Convincing her that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, he becomes an influential regent, proposing radical initiatives like the abolition of torture, ending press censorship and curtailing the perquisites of the nobility. His reforms initially win the support of the long-oppressed citizenry. Nefarious noblemen hope his affair with the queen will ignite a scandal and bring about his downfall. The film moves along crisply, looks great and stimulates the brain (I am a sucker for torrid romances propelled by quotes from Rousseau and Voltaire.)
THE OTHER SON ★★ 1/2 OUT OF FOUR STARS
Rated: PG-13 for a scene of violence, brief language and drug use. In subtitled French, Hebrew, Arabic and English.
A sentimental Mideast drama. Two clans learn their infant sons were switched at birth in the chaos of a hospital missile attack in the first Gulf War, and deal with the resulting identity crises. The French-reared Israeli Silbermans (Emmanuelle Devos and Pascal Erbé) and the Palestinian Al Bezaaz family (Areen Omari and Khalifa Natour) attempt to make sense of complex issues of nationality, ethnicity, religion and belonging. Young Joseph Silberman, the Israeli-raised Palestinian, asks his rabbi if he's still Jewish, only to be offended by the legalistic reply. Yacine Al Bezaaz (Mehdi Dehbi), a medical student in France, returns to find his older brother glaring at him with anti-Israeli distrust. The boys meet and bond, each visiting the other side of the military checkpoint that separates their worlds and reaching out to the biological families they have never known. The women in this Prince and the Pauper situation are quicker to open their hearts than the men, who are burdened by resentment, machismo and pride. When the families' young daughters beam at the unexpected gift of new siblings, you can almost hear director Lorraine Levy whispering, "Children are the future." A humane but emotionally anemic message movie whose dramatic craft doesn't live up to its good intentions.
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN ★★★ OUT OF FOUR STARS
Unrated. In English and subtitled Mandarin and Spanish.
Theater: St. Anthony Main.
The Chinese government's one-child policy created a flood of children -- girls, mostly -- placed in the state's orphanages. Some 80,000 have been adopted by American families since 1989. Documentarian Linda Goldstein Knowlton follows four teenage adoptees as they sort through the sensitive cultural and personal issues that arise from their dual identities. Fang, who has visited her homeland, calls her ideal fantasy world Fangtopia, "a mix of America and China, my biological parents mashed up with my adoptive parents. But there's no Fangtopia." Goodstein Knowlton will introduce her movie at 7 p.m. Friday and 1:30 p.m. Saturday.