Ever since the Oscar nominations were made public, one question circled around the internet: will Eddie Redmayne win an Academy Award for Best Actor twice in a row? Last year, he won the prestigious golden statue for his portrayal of scientist Stephen Hawkins, a phenomenal performance for which Redmayne deservedly won the Oscar. With his performance in “The Danish Girl”, the actor showcases another remarkable performance as Lili Elbe, a transgender pioneer.
Loosely based on real events, “The Danish Girl” follows the journey of Danish artists Einar (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander), as Einar comes to the realization he was born in the wrong body, and would nothing more than to be a woman. He starts dressing up in dresses and wigs, and takes on the personality of Lili Elbe. But what started out as a game to Einar and Gerda, evolves into their journey to themselves.
“The Danish Girl” is a film made with exquisite care. Tom Hooper, director of “The King’s Speech” (2010) and “Les Misérables” (2012), created a beautiful, gentle film about a controversial topic. First of all, the film looks breath-taking. The visuals follow the story, as Einar and Gerda move from Denmark to the vibrant Paris. When the couple still lives in Denmark, the visuals look more subtle, with soft pastel tones and still camera-work. The colors are a mixture of rich blues and grays; beautiful, yet very, very subtle. As soon as the couple moves to Paris, the visuals change. The camera is moving and the colors are bright, popping and vibrant, a delicious cocktail of seductive reds, magical purples and bright oranges. The visuals look like paintings, beautiful and age-less.
As the film takes place in the 1920’s, the costumes are equally breathtaking and, like the visuals, change along with the location setting. In Denmark, Einar wears strict suits, in dark colors with indistinct patterns, and Gerda wears blue cotton dresses with white blouses and silk evening gowns. When they settle down in Paris, Einar becomes Lili, and walks the streets of the French capital in feminine suits, dresses and floral scarfs. It’s no wonder “The Danish Girl” has been nominated for an Oscar for Production Design as well as Costume Design.
Of course, the film’s strongest playing card is actor Eddie Redmayne, who has scored an Oscar nomination (and perhaps another win of said price) with his portrayal of Einar Wegener, who transforms into Lili Elbe. The subtlety, yet intensity, of Redmayne’s performance is breath-taking. You can see the desire in his eyes, in his hands, in his face as he touches the fabric of the dresses. You can see the sparkle in his eyes and his smile when he looks at himself in the mirror and does not see himself, but herself. You can see true femininity in his movements, gentle and so graceful, as the actor delivers another truly phenomenal transformation.
Redmayne’s co-star, Alicia Vikander, known for “Anna Karenina” (2012), “A Royal Affair” (2012) and “Ex-Machina” (2015), delivers a truly unexpected performance. The audience has never seen her like she plays in “The Danish Girl”, with complete and utter understanding of her character, Gerda Wegener. She is vibrant and sensual, beautiful and strong. My guess is that Vikander will be an actress we are going to see a lot more from in the upcoming years – and rightfully so.
Despite the film’s visual beauty and the absolutely stellar performances by both Redmayne and Vikander, “The Danish Girl” did not manage to touch me as much as I thought it would. The film looks great, with many visual a splendor, but emotionally, it remains flat. “The Danish Girl” is supposed to take its audience on an emotional journey as Einar transforms into his true self, which is Lili, but instead, the film takes you on a journey through the beautiful Denmark and Paris.
“The Danish Girl” is a stunning film, with phenomenal performances and a lovely, painting-like feel to it – however, the film does not make you feel all the feels.