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Film Review: The Danish Girl

By Laura Hinds

Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander give outstanding performances in Tom Hooper’s heart-wrenching biopic presenting the life of Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl.

Lili was one of the first people to face gender reassignment surgery in the early 1900’s, making her story one of fascination, importance and sadness for many transgender people across the world.

Much like in his previous work The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper again creates an elegant and captivating story.

The character of Lili Elbe shines in a world that seems just as beautiful but is, in reality, entirely unwilling to accept her.

Eddie Redmayne’s dedication to his portrayal of such an exquisite character is as evident as it always is.

His focus to display the suffering and isolation of the transgender community is outstanding.

The two characters of Einar Wegener and Lili Elbe are quite obviously poles apart, as Lili only blossoms so enigmatically throughout the, quite brief, 119 minutes running time.

However as much as this movie is about the difficulties Lili had to live through, a little development of Einar’s character would have been pleasant to see.

His character almost didn’t exist.

Though I suppose this was the intention, the discomfort of Einar could truly have added to emotion of Lili’s transition.

This film is truly watchable, as Hooper crafts his usual easy viewing yet emotional masterpiece.

But for those who wish to find some true meaning, you will not be left disappointed.

This piece is undoubtedly shot through Lili’s eyes, with beautiful scenery and luxurious costuming at every turn for her.

It is an unbelievably attractive film, this is juxtaposed with the discomfort and muddy nature of Einar’s perspective.

Alicia Vikander did a wonderful job with the script she was given.

Again, however, some character development would have been much more engaging to see on her part too.

This could, once again, be down to the unnecessarily brief running time but that does seem nonsensical.

She gave exceptional performances in the few poignant scenes she was granted, and her portrayal of Gerda’s relationship with art dealer Hans Axgil was lively and entertaining to experience.

Yet, this did not satisfy the need for Gerda’s acknowledgement of Lili’s transformation in the drama.

She existed as far too much of a background character.

The only grudge to have with this film is it’s pacing.

The story of Lili Elbe does demand a considered and heart felt approach and something about this biopic just doesn’t deliver that.

Hooper has delivered an emotional story, that is always promised in his directing abilities, but I can’t help but feel like Redmayne is the only member of this crew that gave the narrative and biography of Lili’s life enough consideration.

As a story of transformation, though, this romantic and dramatic biopic excels.

It is the transformation of minds that stands out in this film.

Not only Einar and Lili’s metamorphosis, but experiencing Gerda’s unequivocal love for Lili, despite the loss of her husband, is one revolution that could send this film to the awards ceremony.