Movie review: The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne got his second Academy Awards nomination in a row,

danishgirlThe Danish Girl has nothing to do with a young woman selling pastry. It’s about a “fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists.” Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) is a successful painter, but his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) less so. Still, they seem a happy couple, though trying unsuccessfully to have a baby.

Then they are required to go to a potential party. In order to make it more interesting, Einar dressed as a woman, with the aid and encouragement of Gerda. The woman, dubbed Lili Elbe, Einar’s “cousin”, was having a great deal of fun.

Moreover, Gerda’s pictures of Lili start selling like none of her previous paintings did. So the couple’s relationship gets tested and transformed.
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Do you know how it takes a while for you to get into the storyline of the movie? This was certainly true of me watching The Danish Girl. The acting is quite fine, especially the leads. Vikander, in some ways, had the more difficult role, reacting to the changing relationship, and deserves her Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. (She was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Ex Machina this season.)

Redmayne, getting his second Academy Awards nomination in a row, was perhaps not as compelling as he was in last year’s The Theory of Everything, for which he won playing Stephen Hawking. Partly, I didn’t quite buy that he convinced other people into thinking he was a woman.

Also very good were art-dealer Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts), and friend Ulna (Amber Heard).

The Danish Girl deals with a real, important issue. It’s Lili, trapped in the wrong body, in a period, the 1920s, when gender misassignment was even less understood than it is now. The Wife and I saw this at the Spectrum on the Martin Luther King holiday, and somehow, thinking back, that was appropriate.

I did enjoy the film and was glad that I saw it. Yet there was a certain arms-length quality to it. Perhaps the story was a tad overlong and unfocused and stagy, and the music was overmuch. But it felt just a little as though I were watching something that is supposed to be something Oscar-worthy.

Still, I got a little weepy in the last scene, so there’s that. And I wasn’t really all that aware of most of the film’s flaws while I was watching it, only in retrospect.