Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper
"The Danish Girl" (Focus Features)
The Danish Girl is an amazing movie that succeeds in spite of itself. In this day and age, the story of a woman trapped inside a man's body would not appear to be the sort of film to appeal to audiences across the board. However in the hands of a talented director such as Tom Hooper, and with a screenplay by Lucinda Coxon, it becomes a totally relatable story about love and all its many aspects.
The amazing Eddie Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, a talented artist who is married to Gerda (Alicia Vikander), an equally talented artist. They seem to be totally in love and headed for a bright future. But one day Gerda needs to finish up a painting of a ballerina and convinces Einar to assume the pose and costume she has had the model using. This brief moment in time arouses a deep longing in Einar, a longing to live as a woman.
After this session, Einar and Gerda indulge in a bit of fun which involves Einar going to a party dressed up and disguised as Einar's cousin, Lilli Elbe. In the ensuing days Lili becomes more and more a part of Einar's life. There is still a bond between him and Gerda, but their love has taken a new course.
The conflicts in Einar's life as well as the abandonment issues felt by Gerda make up the crux of the film. It is all played out in detail and brings the desperation of these situations to fruition. It is all immensely helped my the magnitude of talent displayed by Redmayne and Vikander.
Redmayne is completely absorbed by the role and uses his talent to show all of the facets of Einar and the emerging Lili. Somehow he manages to show both Einar's confliction and Lili's vulnerability. Vikander's role as Gerda is equally complex. This is a woman who loves her husband totally, but also understands his need to be accepted as a woman. These are two of the best performances you will see this year, and they complement each other beautifully.
Matthias Schoenaerts is solidly supportive as Hans Axgil, a childhood friend of Einar's. He adds real warmth to the film as he becomes one who understands Einar's challenges. He also provides Gerda with a shoulder on which to cry.
Both the cinematography by Danny Cohen and the musical score by Alexandre Despiat add flavor to the film, creating a mood that enhances the poignancy of the story. It takes a village of workers to create a film with this much impact, and each person involved plays a key role in the overall success.
The film is rated R for profanity and nudity.
Some might write this movie off because of the subject matter, but believe me, it is handled with excellent taste. It goes beyond the telling of a transgender person's life and creates a love story between the souls of two individuals. This is a film that is delicate and immensely moving.
I scored The Danish Girl a spirited 8 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper