As one actor proves he is becoming the master of his craft – a young actress shows she’s Hollywood’s new breakout star.
Eddie Redmayne builds on his Oscar-winning turn in A Theory of Everything with another compelling performance as the world’s first transgender patient, but Alicia Vikander – who first shot to fame with her head-turning role in Ex Machina – puts in an exquisite turn as his suffering wife that equals, if not betters, his performance.
A King’s Speech (and academy award winning) director Tom Hooper helms this biographical 1920’s Copenhagen-set romantic-drama – loosely based on true events – which chronicles the remarkable love story of artists Einar (Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Vikander).
When Gerda – struggling to come out of the shadow of her more lauded husband – asks him to stand in for a female model for one of her paintings, this inadvertently opens up lifelong feelings that Einar had hidden away deep inside himself.
Soon after – initially on Gerda’s part just for ‘giggles’ – she takes Einar to a party dressed up as a woman (acting as his fictitious cousin), which backfires and leads him to flirtation with Ben Whishaw’s Henrik – as Einar’s alter-ego Lili Elbe is unleashed.
Gerda’s acclaimed paintings lead the couple to Paris, but soon she realises her husband is no longer the man she married, as he struggles to stay out of female attire – with Lili all but extinguishing the memory of Einar.
Her only hope is to selflessly let go of her husband – despite the best intentions of Einar’s art-dealing childhood friend Hans (Far from the Madding Crowd’s Matthias Schoenaerts) – by helping him attempt the first-ever male to female sex reassignment surgery from Sebastian Koch’s (Bridge of Spies) surgeon, who is one of the few doctors who hasn’t recommended sending him to the ‘loony bin’ for perceived schizophrenia.
But despite the stand-out performances, The Danish Girl never quite pieces together coherently in all quarters with repetitiveness and pacing/plotting issues hampering it from becoming truly compelling.
A few cracks in Hooper’s generally noteworthy effort (it isn’t as polished as A King’s Speech), are papered over by the intriguing and thoughtful material, some breathtaking backdrops, lavish costume design and of course, the two headlining performances – but it just has that something ‘missing’ that will stop it getting near the Best Picture front-runners come Oscar time.
Redmayne and the film-stealing Vikander’s roles definitely add an extra mark – as it’s their turns you’ll remember more than the film as a whole – but the subject matter is generally handled in a touching and caring fashion that still makes it watchable throughout.
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Gavin Miller [youtube id=”d88APYIGkjk” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard & Sebastian Koch
Running Time: 1 Hr 59 Mins
Director: Tom Hooper