It’s that time of year folks! While many are anticipating a little film called Star Wars, directors are releasing their cinematic pieces just in time for the awards season. While I usually roll my eyes when I see the trailers for “Oscar Bait” films, Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl caught my eye and I decided to give it a chance. I’m so glad I did. The film is a groundbreaking, emotional look into the transgender movement long before Caitlin Jenner made her mark.
The film is set in 1920s Denmark and recounts the story of Einar Wegener and his wife, Gerda. Einar is a successful painter while Gerda is an artist struggling to make a name for herself. One afternoon, Gerda asks her husband to pose for her as her female model is running late. Einar puts on a dress, stockings and shoes and follows Gerda’s commands. Something within Einar changes and he soon begins posing for Gerda and even names his gender bending, alter ego Lili. As time passes, Einar begins dressing as Lili more and more often until he eventually struggles to determine his true identity. Einar decides to undergo a sex change operation, making him the first person to ever do so. The film is an emotional roller coaster as Einar and Gerda’s relationship becomes stronger, while at the same time, falls apart.
The Danish Girl is a compelling, unique love story from beginning to end all while raising questions about sexuality and gender identity. The film is slow at times but Hooper’s signature close-up shots and the film’s beautiful scenery will keep even the most wandering imagination at bay.
Much like last year’s The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne is nearly unrecognizable as Lili, allowing for his performance to be even more remarkable and believable. While many male actors would portray Lili as the poor man’s version of Tim Curry’s Frankenfurter, Redmayne makes Lili seem more real and honest without seeming over the top, flamboyant or superficial. Alicia Vikander (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) gives life to Gerda Wegener. Vikander and Redmayne are absolutely beautiful together and their chemistry is unmatched. Vikander wonderfully conveys both strength and resilience as her character slowly looses her husband, while still capturing the unwavering politeness of a 1920s woman.
The Danish Girl is visually stunning. The scenery, the costumes and European landscapes look as though a Degas or Renoir painting has been brought to life. The film serves not only as an entertaining biopic but also as a commentary on the ever growing and changing transgender movement.
Bottom line: The Danish Girl is a beautiful, emotional and compelling film that gives life to a story that is seldom told. I recommend it for fans of period pieces, biopics and anyone who appreciates career-altering performances from talented performers. While I’m sure there will be several Oscar-baiting films released in the upcoming months, I certainly hope The Danish Girl receives the recognition it rightfully deserves.
Mallory Delchamp is a writer, model, and performer living in Manhattan. You can routinely read her film and music reviews here on Pop-Break and you can also check out her work on zumic.com and nytheatreguide.com. A social media and pop culture enthusiast, Mallory also enjoys musical theatre, superhero films, and drinking coffee. You can visit Mallory at her website, www.mallorydelchamp.com