Sofia Helin and Kyle MacLachlan in a scene from “Atlantic Crossing.” IMBd photo

“Atlantic Crossing” begins by playing on all the black keys, as Adolf Hitler starts his moves.

It opens in Norway back when it was a kingdom, and had a King Haakon VII (Søren Pilmark).

We meet the son Prince Olav (Tobias Santelmann) and his wife the Princess Märtha, (Sofia Helin) all going about the business of royalty, when the dark clouds of Hitler’s plans begin to take shape.

This is the best part. It’s dark and snowy, the servants are putting up “black out “curtains. That confuses Princess Märtha, which is no surprise. The men discuss the crumbling of Europe, over cigars and brandy, while the women fuss with clothes and the children.

“Atlantic Crossing” slowly gets better before it gets worse.

The first two or three chapters are full of radio warnings and the grouchy voice of Hitler. Then suddenly, as no one was paying attention, plans are made and put into motion.

Princess Märtha and children are evacuated in darkness to Sweden, where her mother lives or reigns.

Did you know that almost every ruler in Europe was related to one another?

The excitement mounts in spurts. The Crown Prince has to stay in Norway, as Crown Princess and children are slipped out of Norway and then Sweden, put on a boat to America, where they are taken in as welcome royal immigrants by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Kyle MacLachlan).

MacLachlan (probably the umpteenth movie Roosevelt) plays FDR as a philandering good old boy, who ignores his doctors, and enjoys martinis and cigars three times a day. History does supply a lot of material to support this. Google it.

FDR feels an immediate warmth in having a new hot houseguest, which is discomforting to Eleanor, much saucier than the real Eleanor as played by Harriet Sansom Harris, and FDR’s other not too secret love, Missy LeHand (Lucy Russell).

FDR sets Princess Märtha and her children and servants up in a mansion nearby. No one in this movie can tell us who’s paying for all of this. Don’t ask.

Here’s where what promised to be a historical thriller becomes an historical soap opera.

I gave up on it before the last chapters, but you should see the first three before you decide.

“Atlantic Crossing,” directed by Alexander Eik and Janic Heen, streams on HBOMAX in eight episodes.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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