Words by Steven Mitchell
Director: Tom Hooper
Screenplay: Lucinda Coxon
Cast: Eddie Redmanyne, Alicia Vikander and Ben Whishaw
Synopsis: A fictitious love story inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s ground-breaking journey as a transgender pioneer.
EVERY year we get the “Oscar-Bait” films, the same way in the middle of the year we get the ‘popcorn’ action films…
Director Tom Hooper is best known for his most recent films The Kings Speech (2010) and Les Miserables (2013), which both earned Academy Awards. Last year’s almost painfully award wanting film was The Theory of Everything (2014). The story of Stephen Hawking starring Eddie Redmayne, which won him the best actor award. I honestly didn’t think much of the film. It did exactly what I expected and felt more like a well-made BBC Drama to watch on a Sunday afternoon. However the film got a lot of attention due to “Redmayne’s’ strong performance and helped make him a star and now new lead the upcoming Fantastic Beasts (2015) series set in the Harry Potter world.
But before that “Eddie’ is back in the awards conversation for The Danish Girl, which could easily, be described as the big “Oscar-Bait” film of the year. “Redmayne’ plays actual Einar Wegener a popular landscape artist in 1920’s who after posing as a female model for his wife “Gerda’ (Alicia Vikander) for a painting she is working on start to slowly uncovered “Einar’s’ true identity that he is a woman named Lili Elbe. What starts, as a fun game with his wife to pose for paintings and go to parties soon becomes an obsession and even treated like a split personality. This all leads to “Einar’ wanting to become a female.
The main element people will be talking about is the performances. Of course “Redmayne’ is the eye catching one and he gives a strong performance, his transition from a man playing dress up to actually being a woman is well done and has to be commended as it could have gone horribly wrong. As “Einar’ he is quiet, thoughtful but as “Lili’ the performance is much more comfortable as the character would be. The film isn’t heavily plot driven; it’s a simple personal story, character driven. An equally impressive performance is Alicia Vikander. As “Gerda’ she is both strong and vulnerable, she isn’t one-dimensional and has growth to her, the same way “Einar’ is dealing with the change she is too. Both sides of this situation are shown equally.
Tom Hooper works for the fifth time with Cinematographer Danny Cohen and both have created a gorgeous film. Production design and costuming also add to the beauty to film. Plenty of natural light is used so in wide shots it can look like a landscape painting. Tom Hooper is a more than competent director and it’s nice to see a signature visual style coming through from his other films. Colours pop like a painting and you could almost feel like you could step into this world.
Overall The Danish Girl is rather strong, doing nothing considerably wrong. The only negative point I could give is that it doesn’t go one stop further into greatness but with this kind of story I can see why. The Danish Girl is of course an important film for the transgender community and should be watched knowing it does a good job with it’s representation of all sides.
Watch the official trailer below: