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The Danish Girl (2015) Reviewed By Jay

United States, 13 August 2015

 

Jay´s Review

Based on real-life events that occurred in the 1920s (!), we watch a happily married pair of artists grapple with the realities of the husband's latent desire to release his inner woman as he dresses in female clothing. Already nominated for numerous awards (in December, 2015), Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") is guided by a screenplay from Lucinda Coxon ("Wild Target") which in turn was based on David Ebershoff's biographical novel "The Danish Girl."

This excellent cast and brilliant production design convinced me this was real: Einer is a painter and devoted husband; Gerda, is also a painter who playfully uses her husband as a model for her female portraits. Both of these lead actors deserve all the nominations they get; each one contributes to the quality of the other's game. And the cinematography by Danny Cohen is exquisite, many scenes are framed like paintings!

They are:

  • * Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything") is Einer Wegener/Lili Elbe, reluctant to hurt his wife, but compelled to become a woman. Thus with sex reassignment surgery, he becomes a trans-gender pioneer. Medical "science" was brutal and clumsy in the 20s and 30s.... You will cringe as they start with radiation to "cure" him.
  • * Alicia Vikander ("The Man From U.N.C.L.E.") is Gerda Wegener, first amused, then confused, finally heartbroken by the transformation of the man she truly loves. She is his staunchest advocate from beginning to end.
  • * Ben Whishaw ("Spectre") Henrik is intrigued by Lily the first time he sees her at a party, so it is no surprise when he surfaces again later in the film.
  • * Sebastian Koch ("Bridge of Spies") Three time's a charm when good doctor Warnekros comes on the scene. Consultations with the first two doctors sent chills down everyone's spine, including our hero/heroine!
  • * Matthias Schoenaerts ("Far From the Madding Crowd") Hans Axgil was there when he and Einer were children, now he's there whenGerda needs him. What more can we ask?
  • * Oh! The dog Hvappe is played by Pixie, in her first starring role...smile...

As you can see, this highly qualified cast is capable of carrying a complex and heart-wrenching story. You can always tell when a story is based on real life, a storybook ending is often a bit more elusive.

This is rated "R" for nudity and the subject matter. Those matters are tastefully handled, but are on screen nonetheless. By the way, much of the dialogue is whispered or murmured, so look for a theater with closed captions! Just remember, this one's for grownups!

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