Directed by Tom Hooper
Country: UK / USA / Germany
In Tom Hooper’s pseudo-biographical drama, “The Danish Girl”, Eddie Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, a Danish painter who couldn’t go on with his married life after embodying Lili Elbe, his female persona.
Einar was married to another bohemian painter, Gerda, performed tightly by Alicia Vikander, who, after the initial shock, becomes surprisingly supportive of her husband’s difficult decision of submitting himself to a sex reassignment surgery, a pioneering step in the gender transition prospect, since this fictionalized biopic is set in 1926 Copenhagen.
Beautifully photographed by Danny Chen, who works with Mr. Hooper for the third time after “Les Miserables” and the acclaimed “The King’s Speech”, the drama exhibits a delicate sensitivity and is adorned with polished strokes, conferring it lyrical touches. It often induces a sort of relaxation when combining the vividly colored images, displaying the splendorous Danish architecture and interior settings, with the smooth musical score, but never forgetting to include the crucial emotion in order to compose the whole.
We can follow how Lili changes from a primal state of confusion to a most inevitable, radical, and irreversible decision toward happiness.
Everything started when Einar attends one of those recurrent boring parties dressed as a woman, immediately drawing the attention of Henrik (Ben Whishaw), a gallant young man who throws one first kiss, reawaking Lili’s true nature, once and for all. Being simultaneously considerate and perceptive, Gerda, who had initially agreed to a few ignominious therapies for her husband, gives up the idea that he can be cured. She deals with the fact with sadness but is suddenly struck by a different hope when her drawings of Lily receive an enthusiastic welcome by the prestigious gallery she had been in contact for so long.
The couple moves to Paris, and Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts), an art dealer who also happens to be Einar’s childhood friend, comes close and feels attracted to Gerda.
This account of a strangely disarming relationship, adapted by Lucinda Coxon from David Ebershoff’s novel of the same, is given to us at a moderate pace and presented with a perhaps too polite artistry. As in “The King’s Speech”, Tom Hooper uses this premeditated refinement that bestows enough dramatic depth to “The Danish Girl”, without, however, achieving the same triumphant results.