In a modern world where women such as Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner are known for being transgender, The Danish Girl has been released during a crucial time. The Danish Girl tells the story of Einar Wegener played by Eddie Redmayne (Theory of Everything) as the first person to undergo gender-reassignment surgery in order to become Lili Elbe.
The film starts strong, telling of Lili’s struggle to become who she was really meant to be. Director Tom Hooper made it clear that, through Lili’s struggles, her paintings also changed. It was subtle glimpses into Lili’s personality that made this film so beautiful to watch. Many characters in this film support Einar’s decision to become Lili, and the actors behind these characters give outstanding performances. For example, Matthias Schoenaerts gives a fantastic performance as Lili’s childhood friend, Hans Axigil. Even Amber Hurd’s performance as Ulla, though small, gives a voice to the people of that time who were against the norms and social standards of the 20th century.
But the film did not do the topic of transgender justice. After awhile, the film becomes dull, leaving the film to show nothing but the same situations happening over and over. The one character that bothered me was Gerda Wegener, played by Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina). I understand that for a spouse to be put in this situation, it must be tough. And there is a strong want to keep your spouse as the same person. However, I felt that Gerda often gave Lili false reassurance in the support for Lili. In my opinion, Gerda would go back and forth, “Yes, I support you. Wait, no I don’t”. Lili even tells Gerda at the train station to not accompany her to the first surgery, because Einar is dead and he will not be coming back. But Gerda proceeds to go with Lili to the first surgery, only to question one more time if this is really what Lili wants. This ongoing back and forth caused me to become annoyed with the film and the character of Gerda, thus becoming less interested with the further storyline.
The Danish Girl takes on a topic that has been flooding our airwaves recently. Redmayne gives a convincing and beautiful performance as Lili Elbe. Redmayne deserves respect for this role, because he is basically playing two characters with such believability. But through the need to be compelling, and sometimes melodramatic, the film lacks that punch of humility and love that this film needed to convey to its audience.
The Danish Girl
Directed By: Tom Hooper
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Amber Hurd