Plot – A fictitious love story loosely 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 groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer – The Danish Girl.
Director – Tom Hooper
Released – 2015
The Danish Girl is an extraordinary film swinging between an exquisitely beautiful study of gender & sexuality, a dark biopic looking at the prejudice faced by a pioneer looking to escape the gender assigned at birth and finally a study of how far some will go to support those you love. Based loosely on the life of an early recipient of gender reassignment surgery, Danish artist Einar Wengener and how it affected not only her life but those around her, including her wife Gerda Wegener.
Eddie Redmayne has the ability to skink into a role so much so you no longer see him for the character he is playing. This was clear from his Oscar-winning portal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, and even more so in The Danish Girl. Einer incrementally explores coming out as a woman over the course of the film, worried about being seen as different in a society not ready that didn’t even have a name for people like him.
Slowly becoming more comfortable adventuring out of his comfort zone, the film can at times feel like a coming-of-age drama as Einer comes out of their cocoon and transitioning into Lili like a beautiful butterfly. Vikander was equally impressive as Gerda, a wife dealing with multiple mixed emotions while trying to not only understand but also support her husband as he transitions into someone completely new, it’s easy to see why she won an Oscar for such a powerful performance.
Tom Hooper helped to create a lush and beautiful world, with cinematography that felt like a painting come to life, It’s clear that the makers wanted to incorporate as much of Wegener’s landscapes into the ascetic as possible, giving Einar the inspiration to transform themselves into Lili. While the masterful use of close-up shots helps to bring out the inner essence of the subject, highlighting the beauty and femininity similar to an artist painting their muse.
The Danish Girl important story that although it doesn’t stick entirely to the truth, still needs to be told and Hooper did a good job of telling it in a way that feels both mainstream and art-house at the same time.
Clearly, some would prefer that they chose a transgender actor to play the lead, however, I feel Redmayne did an excellent job of bringing this inspirational actor to life and more people now know about the life and journey that Lili went on because his name was attached to the project.