The Danish Girl (15)



Drama (2015)
120mins UK/Ger/US

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Eddie Redmayne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer(s): Lucinda Coxon
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Einar Wegener is a well respected artist in 1920s Copenhagen. His bohemian wife Gerda, who is also a painter, asks Einar to stand in for an absent female model so she can complete a canvas. The touch of soft fabric on Einar's skin awakens long dormant feelings. Adopting the guise of flame-haired Lili Elbe, Einar confronts the deep-rooted belief that he has been born into the wrong body.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Danish Girl(15)

During a momentous 2015, the transgender community advanced the fight for acceptance, equality and understanding into popular culture and the mainstream media. Barack Obama became the first President to mention transgender people in his State Of The Union address, America confirmed a timetable for transgender soldiers to serve openly in the military, reality star Caitlyn Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair and award-winning TV shows Transparent and Orange Is The New Black blazed a trail for modern trans activism. The Danish Girl is a fictionalised account of Lili Elbe, a pioneer of the movement, who was one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery in the 1920s...

The Danish Girl. Copyright: Universal Pictures. Caption: Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander star in The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper. Copyright: Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.Director Tom Hooper, who collected an Academy Award for The King's Speech, adopts a restrained and painfully polite approach to the subject matter, artfully navigating a maelstrom of conflicting emotions. Thankfully, his British reserve doesn't get in the way of us connecting to the characters, aided by tour-de-force performances from Eddie Redmayne as Lili and the luminous Alicia Vikander as his conflicted wife. Their commitment to demanding roles, including a deeply moving scene of full frontal nudity for Redmayne, elevates Lucinda Coxon's script and guarantees a deluge of saltwater tears from audiences, who believe that love transcends all boundaries.

Einar Wegener (Redmayne) is a respected artist in 1920s Copenhagen, who falls in love at first sight with his bohemian wife Gerda (Vikander). She is also a painter and asks Einar to stand in for an absent female model so she can complete a portrait of their flamboyant ballerina friend, Ulla (Amber Heard). The touch of soft fabric on Einar's skin awakens long dormant feelings. Adopting the guise of flame-haired ingenue Lili Elbe, Einar confronts the deep-rooted belief that he has been born into the wrong body. "It doesn't matter what I wear. When I dream, they're Lili's dreams," Einar tearfully confides to his shell-shocked spouse. Supported by Gerda and childhood friend Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts), Lili approaches controversial surgeon Warnekros (Sebastian Koch) to correct nature's mistake. However, the medical procedure is both experimental and highly dangerous, and Gerda might not only lose her husband on the operating table but also Lili.

The Danish Girl treads an exceedingly safe path but it's hard to resist the aching emotion that courses beneath each exquisite, painterly frame. Redmayne and Vikander are mesmerising, conveying their protagonists' inner torment with each trembling touch or tearstained glance. Both deserve Oscar recognition. Resplendent cinematography and costumes capture the tightly-buttoned restraint of an era when a man who openly questioned his gender was labelled a schizophrenic or pervert by the medical establishment. Thankfully, times have changed - too slowly, perhaps - but well-crafted stories of triumph against adversity like this are timeless.

- Sam Cannon

The Danish Girl. Copyright: Universal Pictures. Caption: Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander star in The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper. Copyright: Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


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