Skip to main content

The Danish Girl - Review



As Award Season frantically begins, where better to start with the film that has caught the headlines and grabbed people's attention before even buying a ticket. Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' tells the story of Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), a well respected artist happily married to his loving wife and wannabe artist Gerda (Alicia Vikander). What starts off as a simple game of modelling Einar in dresses and make up leads to a reawakening of Einar discovering her true self, though her body is biologically male, on the inside she is Lili Elbe.

Hooper has a track record of dealing with sensitive subject matter, and the approach was always going to be observed with such scrutiny from critics and audiences alike, especially in a time where the topic of transgenderism is at an all time high, brought to the mainstream thanks to women like Caitlin Jenner or Laverne Cox. However, Hooper delivers another masterpiece of a film, handled with such sensitivity and fragility without ever becoming self indulgent. Redmayne excellently carries off two performances as the repressive Einar and the softly spoken, delicate and wonderfully vulnerable Lili. Lili  is shot with such soft focus that accentuates this vulnerability, her face fills the screen inn oddly shot angles that carry angelic qualities; matched with Redmayne's trademark grin, these moments are poised with such beauty. The film carries a mounted and restrained tone but still packs soft, subtle emotional moments. Such as Einar running his hands absent-mindedly along a rack of dresses, stripping naked and altering his body to look more female whilst staring in a mirror or attending a peep show in Paris to simply copy the hand movements of the model. These moments are subtle rather than drawn out as one would expect, and Hooper grasps this tone throughout the film and never lets go. The space between discovery of the self and the self Lili portrays on the outside is the space Hooper explores throughout the course of the film, and is truly heartbreaking for it.

Though Redmayne delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Einar and Lily, very clearly separating the two it is Vikander who caries the film as she turns from playful, experimental to astonishingly supportive though carrying the tragic burden of losing her husband forever. Her emotion is raw and equally as heartbreaking as Lili's story, if not more so, and Vikander delivers on every note, from unquestionable rage to energetic heartbreak. At times however, the film has a tendency to deliver a perspective looking through rose-tinted glass, especially in the last act where Lili is halfway through her transition, and she begins working in a shop whilst Gerda works on her paintings. You get the impression that everything will work out for the best, and the mourning Gerda has for her husband seems almost lacking, but this is quickly altered in the final few minutes of the film.

Hooper once again delivers a film that looks beautiful. Amongst the close-ups of Lili's china-bone features are inter-cuts of the bleak Copenhagen landscape, washed out colours that beautifully reflect Einar's paintings we see at the beginning of the film. Hooper conjures up the idea of nature, the natural world in which Lili wishes to belong, but she can only exist in paintings or in the imagination, simply reaffirming the heartbreak and tragedy of the film. Alongside this we have the moving score by Alexandre Desplat, the simplicity and the fragility of the piano working perfectly alongside the fragility of Lili determining to be heard for who she is when no-one is prepared to listen.

Redmayne will no doubt win a vast majority of awards for his performance, but truly Vikander's emotional turn steals the show. Intoxicating, strikingly subtle and as vulnerable as Lili Elbe herself, 'The Danish Girl' is a thought provoking gem.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Not To Be A Boy - Robert Webb

"What are we saying to a boy when we tell him to 'man up' or 'act like a man'? More often we're effectively saying, 'Stop expressing those feelings.' And if the boy hears that often enough, it actually starts to sound uncannily like, 'Stop feeling those feelings.'"

Herein lies the main issue that surrounds Robert Webb's new book How Not To Be A Boy, the idea of how much damage that can be inflicted on to young boys when they are encouraged to behave in ways that supposedly befit their gender. But Webb interweaves this idea tenderly with an autobiographical tale of him growing up in 1970s Lincolnshire with a working class woodcutter for a father and a mother who was tragically taken from him when he was just seventeen. 

   Webb frankly admits how he never really felt like much of a 'boy', taking a dislike for sport, writing a diary, having sticky-out ribs and liking poetry. He is told how he is 'sensitive' and 'shy'…

The Goldfish Boy - Lisa Thompson

It's a new year which means it's time to shake off your dusty wigs and get your reading glasses back on as I'm back on the old blogger! It's been a rather busy few months (what EVEN was December?!) but I'm back, with a promise to you all of at LEAST one post per week. So, let's kick things off in style with a good old fashioned book review; what better place to start than January's Book of the Month for Waterstones, Lisa Thompson's debut 'The Goldfish Boy'.

  Matthew Corbin suffers from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and rarely does he leave his room. He washes his hands until they crack and bleed, he douses everything with antiseptic spray and he has a secret box of latex gloves under his bed. To pass the time, he observes his neighbours as they go about their daily routines and jots it down in his notepad. Everything is as regular as clockwork, until Mr Charles' grandchildren come to stay, and the youngest, Teddy, goes missing. As the …

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

"I suddenly realise it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that we age differently. It doesn't matter that there is no way of resisting the laws of time. The time ahead of you is the like the land beyond the ice. You can guess what it could be like but you can never know. All you know is the moment you are in."

Imagine, for a second, that you were different to everyone else. To others, you may seem like a rather ordinary forty year old, but the reality is you're closer to four hundred and ninety. This is the problem of Tom Hazard, the protagonist of Matt Haig's incredible new novel How to Stop Time. Tom suffers from a rare condition that has caused him to be alive for centuries, ageing one physical year every fifteen years. Always on the move to avoid suspicion, Tom now works in a secondary school as a history teacher, but the one rule he is told never to break keeps making itself known; never fall in love. 

  The joyous quality with Matt Haig is that he trul…