Film review: The Danish Girl

the danish girlThe talented Eddie Redmayne is cast as Einer Wegener, the successful Danish landscape artist who was one of the first to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Set in 1926, the film charts his pioneering (is that the right word?) journey to becoming Lili Elbe.

What makes this film extraordinary is its depiction of the changing relationship between Einer/Lili and his wife, Gerda. In fact, the film is not so much about Einer’s self-discovery as much as Gerda’s sacrifice. She loved Einer so much that she would have done anything to see him fulfilled, even if that meant helping him become someone who would not love her back… well, not in the same way at least.

The Danish Girl is a great movie: understated and beautifully shot. It treats the subject of transgenderism with a delicate sensitivity and without attempting to make judgments on Einer, and more importantly, Gerda who chose to stay with Lili. It lays out the story and leaves you without a sense of who is right, who is wrong, or even if there is a right and wrong. Should she have stayed with him; should he have stayed with her. I left with the sense that perhaps Lili should have set her free, just as Gerda had done for Einer.

Anyway, the acting is superb, from both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. The script washed over me without leaving much of an impression, but I think this is a good thing: this is a movie that is very much the sum of its parts, and I think having any one particular element stand out would have made it unbalanced. It was clearly a labour of love for everyone involved and it showed.

Excellent. Nine out of ten.


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