Gloriously good proof that not every true life story needs to be made into a movie, The Danish Girl is a turgid piece of Oscar-bait cinema that neither educates or entertains over its two hour running time. This 1920s set film sees Eddie Reddmayne play Einar Wegener, an artist and one of the first men to undergo a sex change. Alicia Vikander plays his incredibly understanding wife Gerda, while Ben Whishaw and Matthias Schoenaerts play their respectful potential love interests.
Tom Hooper has made a name for himself in recent years for his well-regarded (if rather staid) period dramas like The King’s Speech and Les Miserables and The Danish Girl continues that theme. However, this sex-change romance just doesn’t have enough oomph to make a mark on an emotional level. Having watched the film and I still have no idea what made Reddmayne’s Wegener decide that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body and why he had an undying need to become Lili. A brief moment modelling women’s stockings and footwear and a night on the town in drag doesn’t seem to point in the direction of such a drastic lifestyle change. I’m equally confused as to why Vikander’s Gerda was so happy to go along with such a controversial plan. Maybe women were much more forward thinking in Copenhagen back in the 1920s.
Eddie Redmayne continues to be an uninspiring screen presence. Hot on the heels of his Oscar win for The Theory of Everything, he once again tries to transform into another real-life character in order to win critical plaudits and this timely tale might be news worthy but a man dressing as a woman hasn’t been seen as shocking since Dustin Hoffman decided to embrace his inner diva in Tootsie. Redmayne may make for a passable one, but his coy looks and hushed tone make his performance seem like the Princess Diana audition that never was. Vikander actually did snag the Oscar for her part, but there isn’t a lot for her to do other than look sincere and occasionally have the odd dramatic outburst.
The Danish Girl is a stale biopic that isn’t half as clever or progressive as it thinks it is. There’s a story to be told here but unfortunately there’s probably more insight into life as a transgender person in a five minute segment of I Am Caitlyn as there is in this whole movie. It’s a drama without any real drama and it fails to work as a character piece either. A creative and artistic misfire, The Danish Girl is an epic failure.
A mercifully short making-of featurette.