The Danish Girl (2015)

The Danish Girl

Directed By Tom Hooper

Starring:  Eddie RedmayneAlicia VikanderAmber Heard

Empire: 4 Stars                                    Rotten Tomatoes: 72%

What has the director done before?
The director of The Danish Girl is Tom Hooper, who previously directed The King’s Speech, for which he won the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Award in 2011.To be brutally honest this was the same year that Black Swan, Inception, The Social Network and The Fighter were also in the running and I personally think that they were better films and more deserving of the Best Picture/Best Director Awards.

Tom Hooper has been riding the success wave ever since the Oscars with the release of the box office hit Les Misérables which also starred Eddie Redmayne. There is something peculiarly pretentious about his films, which tend to focus on real historical figures that are downtrodden and make it through adversity. I can imagine his films appeal to people who value their intellect and knowledge of history and are very conservative.

What sorts of movies are similar?
There aren’t that many good films about transgender Issues that I have personally come across, however, films that come to mind that I highly recommend you watch are Boys Don’t Cry, which tells the story of Brandon Teena, an American trans man (assigned female at birth but whose gender identity is that of a man) that was tragically raped and murdered in 1993. Boys Don’t Cry a brilliantly acted film earned Hilary Swank the Best Actress Academy Award in 2000. Another film to watch is Transamerica which tells the story of a trans woman, discovering she has a son and journeying across America with him, the film stars Felicity Huffman (Lynette Scavo in Desperate Housewives), who was nominated for the Best Actress Academy award for her performance, but she lost out, strangely enough to Hilary Swank, who won the Best Actress Academy Award again for Million Dollar Baby.

Who would win the Oscar?
Alicia Vikander gave the best performance of the film as Gerda Wegner, Lili Elbe’s (Eddie Redmayne) wife, she was emotional, charming, flirtatious and strong, yet not self pitying and morbid as the character could have easily been portrayed. Perhaps Alicia Vikander was better in Ex-Machina and The Man from U.N.C.L.E, but it could be the characters she played were more interesting than Gerda Wegner, which speaks volumes about the characters’ in The Danish Girl considering she was a robot in Ex-Machina.

Could it have been better?
The Danish Girl, definitely could have been done better, two words I would use to describe this film are constrained and commercial. Constrained because the characters’ in the film are a bit restrained so you are unable to gain an understanding of Lili Elbe’s (Eddie Redmayne’s) desperation to change his gender, at best the film plays Lili Elbe’s  out as having a mild depression.

This is what I believe the issue is with The Danish Girl, it was too idealistic, to the point I don’t think it portrayed the struggles a Transgendered person would undergo through in the early 19th century, I’ve felt more internal turmoil when I couldn’t  find my phone  underneath the covers.

I wonder perhaps if they stuck closely to the real story of Einar Wegener’s transition into Lili Elbes, where he married Greda who was actually a lesbian and moved to Paris with her so he could live openly as a woman and her as a Lesbian would’ve lead to a more intriguing story. To add Einar Wegener underwent gender reassignment surgery that involved undergoing a uterus transplant (a highly experimental procedure, obviously), which the film barely touched and I think  focusing on the gory details, both emotionally and surgically, could have lead to a more engaging, terrifying, and interesting story .

Focusing on their emotional and physical turmoil, would have made the film much darker, which I think the film should have been because most transgender stories are unfortunately quite dark and usually full of hopelessness, anxiety and depression.

Transgender stories, that I have heard, are usually quite tragic, but they went the commercial route with this film in a bid to protect the audience from the harsh realities of a transgendered existence which ultimately let the film down.

Watch it in the cinema or watch on DVD?
Definitely watch on DVD, if you have some time to spare, it’s just a curious film, with in interesting subject matter that is probably more enjoyable to criticise than to actually watch.



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