THE DANISH GIRL – REVIEW: Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne plays Oscar -worthy role in timely Oscar-friendly transgender period drama The Danish Girl.
Einar Wegener (Redmayne) is a moderately successful Oscar winning landscape painter obsessively painting the same childhood vista: a bog, a line of trees, the mountains beyond, which represent the Oscar he might win. His wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander doing a fine impression of Oscar-winner Kate Winslett) is a modern type who paints portraits and smokes cigarettes in her cigarette holder. Einar likes to dress up as a lady and the two go to a ball with Einar pretending to be Gerda’s country cousin Lili. He bats his eyelids and simpers and goes all a-fluster when Ben Whishaw tries to snog him. And so Einmar begins his pioneering journey from male to female avoiding the oppressive bigotry of the time, the wicked machinations of pseudo psychiatry and finding some allies along the way, not least of all his initially suspicious but ultimately supportive and loving wife. Oscar Winner Tom Hooper makes everything look like a painting you might see on the top of a box of chocolates and the costumes and make up are dribbled over and should easily secure Oscar nominations, vital as they are to the narrative.
So what’s wrong with it? First of all Eddie Redmayne isn’t actually that good. The performance like the film is all one tone – a luscious weepiness that bravely smiles through the tears. And his Lili presents not as a woman, the woman he is convinced that he has always been, but rather as a bad transvestite’s version of a woman – forever teetering on the verge of tears, shy glances, sulky pouts and fluttering eyelashes.Although the film is undoubtedly to be welcomed as timely etc., the fact of the matter is that the visibility and to a large degree public acceptance of transgender identity has possibly overtaken the movie, making its hand-holding as it plays through the issues a little bit patronizing. Having said that, it will do well at the Oscars.