The Danish Girl (2015)

I’m incredibly late for Film Review Friday this week. I forgot because of the Top 10 Films of 2015.

The Danish Girl
 Dir. Tom Hooper
 Writ. Lucinda Croxon
 Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander
 Rated R
 119 mins.
 Drama, Romance
 IMDB 6.3

If you saw my top 10 films of 2015 post, you would have seen that I rated this film the 4th best film of the year. I can promise you that the negative IMDB ratings on this one are totally transphobia and/or dissatisfaction about a non-trans actor playing a trans character (which is understandable, though I would disagree in this film since it starts with her not understanding she is trans, but that’s another story entirely), because this is such a beautiful movie.

Before we get into why it’s beautiful, let’s talk about the story. The Danish Girl is a film based on the book about the real life of artist Lili Elbe, (one of?) the first transgender woman to ever receive sexual reassignment surgery. Born Einar Wegener, Lili really came to terms with herself after her wife, Gerda Wegener, also an artist, has her dress up like a woman to be painted. The film follows the story of Einar first becoming Lili, dealing with psychiatric doctors telling her she’s various forms of insane, and eventually, with Gerda’s support, finding a doctor who is willing to give her sexual reassignment surgery. The story of Lili Elbe is a real life story, and a very important one to trans history, because this is was the 1920s Europe. The movie, however, is a much more fictional retelling of the story, and wow, it is beautifully done.

To start with, the way that Gerda supports her husband becoming a woman is absolutely one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve seen in a long time. Gerda loves Einar and even when she loses her husband, she still continues to love Lili, just in a different way. And Lili loves Gerda, even after things change, and it’s such a beautiful story of how there are different times of love. Alicia Vikander does an amazing job of playing Gerda and showing the way her love for Lili is different to the love she had for Einar, but no less sincere.

And then we get to the most amazing thing ever: Eddie Redmayne’s acting.

We all know Eddie Redmayne is a good actor, but in this movie, I cannot express how amazing he is. His best performance by far. Einar and Lili are 100% different characters and he shows all of this with such little changes. Even when Lili is in Einar’s clothes, you can tell it’s Lili. Without makeup, without the wig, without a dress or anything, you can tell even in a close up of only Redmayne’s face whether he is Lili or Einar. You can just see it in his eyes, and THAT is what I call acting.

This is all even before you get into the beautiful sets, the wonderful costumes, the amazing direction, and even just the colors! This film is just the total package.

Also, one of my favorite things about this movie, and this story in general, is that, even though it ends sadly, The Danish Girl is a happy transgender movie. SPOILER ALERT (… for a true story that happened 90 years ago) Lili’s second surgery (the one to create female genitals) went wrong and she died. It’s very sad. But this story tells about a transgender woman in the 1920s who gained acceptance from her wife and a few friends and was able to actually attempt sexual reassignment surgery. The tragedy comes from 1920’s medical advancement, not from the usual murder or suicide story. A person who was accepted and loved and got to become the person she was always meant to be is really happy for a trans film, and this movie just did it so beautifully and respectfully.

I just really love this movie.

My Rating: 8/10

About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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2 Responses to The Danish Girl (2015)

  1. MovieGeek says:

    I saw this at TIFF and it was a beautiful story beautifully told. And Eddie Redmayne leaves you speechless as usual, it was an oscar worthy performance.


    • Most definitely. I have seen many say it’s unlikely he’ll get another since two in a row and all, but honestly, while I agree it would be very unusual to get two in a row, I wouldn’t be at all shocked, because I’ve seen most of the other ‘potential best actor oscar’ films people are talking about, and while they are good, they aren’t THIS level of good.

      Thanks for reading my review!


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