An elegant piece of work, The Danish Girl captures nuances of being transgender in ways that no film before has. The multi-award nominated film is eloquent, delicate and endearing.
The Danish Girl was long-anticipated. It first announced Nicole Kidman to the cast, but then when she dropped there was a reshuffle with Alicia Vikander in her breakout performance as the wife of painter Einar Wegener.
The script by Lucinda Coxon, directed by Tim Hooper, was an engaging slow-moving yet powerful story that pulls you in scene by scene.
Inspired by the true story of the first recorded gender reassignment case in the early 1900s, Einar Wegener was a renowned Danish painter; his wife Gerda too a painter that focused on portraits but unable to capture anyone’s attention.
After Einer wears stockings and heels, with a dress draped across him for a sitting of a painting his wife is working on, he begins to notice something stir within him. It is subtle, but powerful sensation that most transgender people can not only understand, but many have experienced.
When a friend is hosting a ball that Einer doesn’t want to attend, it is Gerda that suggests that he go in disguise, and in that moment “Lili” was born. Yet in the fun of the ruse, Lili is not a disguise for Einer, she is a powerful force that is awakened within him that wants -- that needs -- to live.
While he sleeps one night Gerda draws Einer, but in a femalesque version, and Lili becomes the mystery model on which Gerda eventually finds her success.
That path that follows the young couple is filled with doubts, conflict, and -- in part, for Gerda -- anger and confusion. But once discovered, Einer simply won’t put Lili back in the genie bottle.
When you stop to think that Einer pursued a sex reassignment operation in the early 1900s, a time when every doctor he saw not only thought he was simply insane, but ordered mental incarceration -- that he had to flee from --, it adds deep perspective to the difficult quest Einer was engaged in; a quest that many present day transsexuals might not have been able to complete.
The critics who lashed out that Eddie Redmayne was simply not pretty enough to play a woman, miss the entire point: this was not a story about outer female impersonation, nor passing for that matter; it was a story about the inner struggle of Einer, and the unconditional love of Gerda. Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander played it “brilliantly!”
I highly recommend The Danish Girl and think that it is a film that every early stage transsexual should watch.