Must be Oscar season. So this is about a pair of artists that happen to be married, Einar and Gerda Wegener (Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander). Inspired by true events, this is the story of their relationship as Einar undergoes the first ever recorded operation of gender reassignment, officially transforming himself into his true personality of Lili. The transgender movement has been a hot button topic, and we are starting to see more and more movies released either starring or about transgender people. Earlier in the year, we got the wonderful Tangerine, a movie I was able to fully support because it was so vibrant and fun. The Danish Girl is a much drier story, replacing the kinetic energy with period piece accouterments.
But I did find it humorous that it was his wife that indirectly triggered this.
This is exactly what you are imagining it to be, which is ironic, being that this is about a man who dresses as and wants to be a woman. Just as you would expect, all of high society doesn’t know what to make of this, and is unable to accept a person who is different. The makers of this aren’t able to sidestep the pitfalls that come from a 1920’s period piece in that it is stuffy as can be. It seems that Tom Hooper only releases movies during Oscar season, and I think I am about ready for him to try something just a little bit different. I’m also ready to see something else from Eddie Redmayne as well; he just did an overly physical performance in The Theory of Everything, and while I do understand that Stephen Hawking and a transgender girl are two very different things, they are both roles where the physicality speaks louder than the actual acting, if that makes any sense. I would love to see a performance from him where I can be sold on his acting through the emoting in the dialogue.
Because God knows that this didn’t happen in Jupiter Ascending.
The Danish Girl does have things going for it. It is beautifully shot, so I was always able to appreciate it in that regard, and all of the period set pieces look great. While I wasn’t able to ever develop an emotional connection to Redmayne, I was able to get into the performance of Alicia Vikander; I thought she was the best thing about the movie, as it is as much her story as it is Redmayne’s. I wish I was more moved by this, and that may have been possible if this had more surprises; there was never any moment that I thought there was a possibility that this would end well. As it stands, it is what it is: a beautifully shot, emotionally distant period piece.
The Danish Girl (2015) ***
– Critic for Hire