Director : Tom Hooper
Writer: David Ebershoff (novel) Lucinda Coxon (screenplay)
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenarts, Ben Whislaw UK/USA/Belgium 2h 7m
I couldn’t wait to see this film!! I saw it advertised ages ago on YouTube constantly for some time then it vanished, completely no adverts no “hype” then suddenly it was being ushered out as fast as possible!? I’ve no idea what happened but I’m so happy to have finally seen it. It’s a treat for the eyes as much as pulling at all the heartstrings while it centres on the viewer’s moral fibers and grows.
Elegantly portraying the mental and physical transition of Einar (Eddie Redmayne) and the frantic struggles of a confused and extremely loving wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) and supportive best friend Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts). Danish Girl is one of those films that paints itself dramatically across the screen in subtle muted tones, Lili is an extremely quiet and shy creature who had developed; over time into Lily a female alter ego who is taking over. First therapy is sought, radiation treatment and psychiatrists give damning advice and pills, but eventually a doctor is willing to try some experimental surgery to finally give birth fully to this new girl and lay Einar to rest.
A sentimental memoir in total dedication to the memory of Lili Elbe, a pioneer to all transgendered people.
Eddie Redmayne is such a stunning actor, able to play so many varied roles, although he was never uber masculine in this role, but his levels of femininity did scale up and down but ultimately he has a graceful presence throughout, it is a brave performance although it reaches a certain point then struggles to gather depth, supporting him during this transition. Gerda rarely knows where she stands and goes through as much mental anguish and confusion as Lily, her comfort comes as the handsome guise of Hans (Schoenaerts) who is an old friend of Einar/Lili. his love for the pair (trio?) is unfaltering and he instantly gives emotional support to both as if on tap, and who could resist the hot belguqie who has turned up in many period films of late as the intrepid love interest!?
There is a huge emphasis on the structure of the architecture and landscapes, initially everything is very enclosed, both Einar and Gerda are painters and spend time in their studio’s painting, Einar focuses in on cold nordic landscapes and Gerda on figures, until one day she asks her husband to pose in stocking for an absent model and it doesn’t suggest this was the moment that changed everything but we start to see the changes between this tender couple. There is very little negativity in this film, only one violent scene, the focus is on Lili being operated on, probed and analysed
I knew very little about Lili Elbe’s story until I had seen the film but with a small amount of research I have discovered a little more, and I have to thank the movie for opening my eyes to such a dazzling personality, while the movie is broadly accurate, the timeline and people involved, it doesn’t really get into the quirkier historical facts and sparkle, Lili was a much more vibrant person and her character is slightly diluted for this movie that was obviously made to appeal to the masses and it maintains this poise as if it’s main role is to make Lili lovable to everyone rather than showing her true self and allowing the audience to make up their own minds. Still it’s a feast for the eyes and I hope it brings a lot of awareness to the plights of the transgendered among us, and even if it brings down the barriers of one person it’s certainly worth it’s hommage to a great and beautiful lady.
R – Henry and June (1990), Love is the Devil (1998)
L – Transfilms, Transformation films,
A – How similar should actors be to their characters?
5B – Eddie Redmayne, Matthias Schoenaerts