Actors Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander excel together on screen with memorable and humane performances; while director Tom Hooper's (The King's Speech and Les Misérables) prestige awareness and sensitive direction makes The Danish Girl one of this year's best.
Like last year in The Theory of Everything, Redmayne again goes deep and infuses suffering with acting. In this thought-provoking biopic Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, a Danish painter who became a transgender activist. Nearly a century ago, Einar became a pioneer in gender-reassignment surgery. Redmayne is once again, flat-out brilliant in the title role. You can’t take your eyes off Redmayne throughout the film as he secures his Oscar nom this upcoming February.
From the beginning, we know that there is something burning inside Einar. “This is not my body,” Einar explains as someone else is hidden inside and her name is Lili Elbe. It’s 1926 and Danish artist, Gerda Wegener (Vikander), asks her husband to be the model as a lady in her paintings, stockings, heels and all. Vikander shines as Gerda as she supports Lili through this transition. “I think Lily's thoughts, I dream her dreams. She was always there.” Lili and Einar are fighting for the same body and Hooper captures that raw and numbing struggle.
Elegantly shot and brightly captured on screen, Lili’s journey is an important message for the 21st century. A big surprise, for me, was the glorious photography of the Danish countryside throughout the film. As Einar disappears, Gerda soon realizes that her husband is no longer a man or the person she married before. Through heartache and pain, Gerda continues to love Lili until the very end. At times, Vikander is just as good, if not better, than Redmayne in the acting role. I’m rooting for her to also get an Oscar nom this upcoming February.
Hooper dodges the biopic clichés and manages to still tell the story through raw passion and a heartfelt journey. The Danish Girl is a fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Lili and Gerda. Through its rough spots and flaws, Hooper still succeeds in painting a miraculous portrait of Lili. The film is never too graphic about sex or surgery as Hooper’s sensitive direction beats with a passionate heart. “Find the courage to be yourself.” Learn more about transgender equality here: http://www.transequality.org
The Danish Girl is rated R (Restricted). For some sexuality and full nudity.