Posted Dec 15 2015
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The Danish Girl -This Movie Trans Not Rocks

Dir: Tom Hooper

Starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Wishaw, Matthias Sschoenaerts

Make no mistake – Eddie Redmayne’s Einar Wegener is a very confused man. And The Danish Girl is a very confused film, aided and abetted by a terrific performance by Alicia Vikander, but completely let down by a remarkably bad performance from its other leading lady, Redmayne.

Eddie here plays the noted artist who became – true story alert! – the world’s first recipient of a gender reassignment op. So far, so worthy. But Hooper somehow manages to stage his film almost on the level of a sketch. And a bad sketch at that. Every time Einar passes a frilly dress he can’t help but touch it. When he sees his wife’s scanties on the floor, he is compelled to fold and caress them. When he and her indoors fight, he looks longingly after her – not for her absence but at the way she unlaces her long, luxurious boots. When he storms out of the house he heads to a room with a full length mirror and a collection of frocks he can stroke. When he reveals his alter ego Lili to his wife, she essentially spends a three minute montage teaching him how to mince. And when the wife gets a new nightie – oh PLEASE!! Anyone who remembers Gene Wilder’s performance as a man dressing up a sheep in stockings in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex knows what our Ed is channelling here. And this is almost as funny as Wilder’s misadventures. If inadvertently.

In this movie, Eddie displays all both of his expressions (and no, that wasn’t a grammatical slip.) Look Number One is “winsome, beatific smile whenever he sees a frock.” Look Number Two is “winsome beatific – but deeply satisfied -smile whenever he’s wearing a frock.”

To be fair, by the third act he adds “anguished – frock or no frock” but by that point, you don’t really care anymore.

But the fault of the movie does not lie solely in Redmayne’s performance. Hooper seems deeply uncertain of what his film is or what it’s saying. In particular, in trying to express Einar’s sexuality. At times it even verges close to homophobia – even though homosexuality isn’t an issue. (Although that comes into question when Einar’s first kiss with a man – in drag as his inner woman Lili – erupts into a spontaneous nosebleed.)

The Danish Girl struggles to understand the girl in the Dane and mistakes being sympathetic for being empathetic. Or even creating a sense of understanding. If it wasn’t for Vikander this would be a lost cause on all grounds.

This was originally seen as a big awards player, and whilst Redmayne may well be nominated, it will not, in this case, be deserved.

 

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