The Danish Girl Review
The Danish Girl is a 2015 biographical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. It is quite a good, tragic movie.
It tells the true tale of the first ever transsexual woman and it follows her coming out, her relationship with her wife and her eventual sex reassignment surgery, first ever of its kind. Now, first of all, I really liked this movie and even though it definitely has its evident flaws, I still think it’s quite good and even underrated. What are those flaws? Well, the film is about Lily, but tells her story from the point of view of the wife which is super frustrating to me as Lily should be the focus here. I liked the wife’s struggles and it was all well done, but I still wanted more of Lily. Also, the film is too traditional and despite incorporating full frontal nudity in it which was okay considering the subject matter, it is still too old-fashioned and at times quite dated with its views. It shows us the society of the twenties and of course back then there was not only a lot of prejudice, but also a lot of uncertainty over gender identity even with doctors themselves. That was all very realistically portrayed, but the film becomes like that itself at times with an inaccurate portrayal of trans people as it doesn’t quite shows us that Lily was always Lily inside, but somewhat became her later on which is not true and very problematic.
Now with that out of the way, there is a lot to like here. I loved the character development as Lily is so well realized and such a tragic figure. I loved that heartbreaking ending that really put me in a sad mood how tragic it was. It ended on a wonderfully poignant note. Gerda is also phenomenal and I loved the relationship between the two, first as a married couple, then as true friends. I also liked Hans as he was so likable and such a good person. But what I liked the most in The Danish Girl is how feminine and artistic it is. It truly shows us what it means to be a woman and everything it comes with it. The endless nods to femininity are wonderfully realized and the film is very artistic from time to time with some great technical aspects to it. I loved that it is very realistic in its portrayal of 1920s society and I loved the character interactions, relationships and it has a big heart.
The acting is fantastic. Eddie Redmayne gave one of the best performances of the year and he is absolutely amazing as both a man and a woman here. He became Lily and his devotion to the role is evident from his expressive facial expressions to his moves and talk. Such a terrific performance. However, Alicia Vikander gave as great a performance as Redmayne himself which is so commendable. She is absolutely fantastic and she sold every emotional scene she had here and delivered a strong, layered performance that is also one of the best female performances of the year. Matthias Schoenaerts is also really good. The acting really drives this movie.
The Danish Girl is a technically polished picture with solid direction from Tom Hooper and quite good pacing. But the costume design is exquisite, the film has some wonderfully artistic sensibilities and it has some superb imagery as it’s so well shot. The score is also quite good, but the tone is too melodramatic and some humor was needed to ease the tension. The film sometimes goes into overly maudlin territory. The dialogue I really liked as it was grounded in reality and perfectly believable. It moves at a good pace and is always moving and engaging to watch. This real life story was made for a film treatment and it received a good one. I really enjoyed this movie on multiple levels despite some of its evident shortcomings.
It received four Academy Award nominations, all of which highly deserved. The production design is excellent and the costumes in particular are fantastic and of the year’s best. As for its acting accolades, both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander are definitely deserving as they are both superb, but the inclusion of her in the supporting category is ridiculous having in mind her immense screen time. That was odd. But overall the film deserved those nods and is a bit underrated in my opinion.