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The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne, who won every award out there for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, the famous British physicist plagued by Lou Gehrig’s disease, in last year’s Theory of Everything, anchors this film about another historical figure. Lilli Elbe and her partner Gerda Wegener, once married as Einar and Gerda Wegener, are known as pioneers of the transgender movement, and this film explores the psychological and social dimensions of Einar’s journey to becoming Lilli. Lavishly put together with stunning costuming and sets representing 1920’s Copenhagen, the film movingly portrays the torturous uncertainty Einar faces as he discovers—and uncovers to his wife—his own attraction to the clothes, mannerisms and look of the female form. Equally moving is his wife’s struggle with the phenomenon.

Unfortunately, The Danish Girl, while a story worth telling and certainly interesting in its own right, suffers from a lack of depth that could make it succeed against Carol and the plethora of other movies dealing with gender orientation that have seen the light of day in recent years. If you’re interested in, or have a reason to investigate, the transgender phenomenon, Girl will be worth your while. The very fine performance by Redmayne is equaled, if not exceeded by, that of newcomer Alicia Vikander; both were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances. But the themes and ideas of co-dependence, loyalty in the midst of change, art and its calling (both are painters) are not well enough developed to make much difference to the overwhelming main theme.

See it if you must. But only if you must.

Drew Trotter

January 3, 2016

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