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Danish Girl (The)

Country: UK | USA | Germany | Denmark | Belgium | Japan, Language: English, 93 mins

  • Director: Tom Hooper
  • Writer: David Ebershoff; Lucinda Coxon
  • Producer: Anne Harrison

CGiii Comment

It has taken a while...but, The Danish Girl has finally made it to the silver screen.

Is it any good?

Well...that all depends on where you stand and how you want to view this...

The 'queer' brigade (i.e. the sofa-hugging activists) are - without a shadow of doubt - going to despise it. Why? Because that's what they do...despise everything that doesn't gel with their political meanderings.

The crux of the matter (and with every trans*character that is not played by a trans*actor) is...Eddie Redmayne.

Is he a convincing woman?

Well...that all depends on where you stand and how you want to view this...

The answer is binary: yes and no.

Essentially, The Danish Girl is a love-story...the love is not unrequited, it's unrequired. Einar/Lili's wife [profoundly] loves Einar and - to a degree - Lili...because, she is him. To her...she will always be him.

She and her love trounced by transition.

Unfortunately, this savage complexity is glossed over and brushed aside by the stunning visuals and an unnecessary sentimentality...but, enhanced by a shining, solitary, solid performance by Alicia Vikander...her torture and torment are continuous and tangible.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Einar...for the torture and torment end (fairly abruptly) when Lili appears. It's a two-dimensional portrayal rather than the [much-needed] multi-faceted requirement...but, to be fair, that is the fault of the writing...not the actor. Although, Redmayne does over-do it with the coquettish side-way glances and prissy smiles. Still...that could be the fault of the director...reel in that Oscar-winning actor!

A bugbear that simply won't go away...when Einar/Lili is neither, someone somewhere-in-between the park scene, reminiscent of John Hurt's Quentin Crisp, braving the elements and the public, he/she struts into a homo/transphobic attack. Einar was neither homosexual nor a screaming queen...why portray him as such? He was either Lili or Einar. Not somewhere-in-between...or, perhaps he was, she was. Or, are we missing the point completely?!?

Whatever...The Danish Girl is a visual feast with some exceptional moments. Ultimately, it seems as if both director & writers under-estimated their audience...overly simplifying a compounded conundrum. It may sound as if we are being too harsh...but, we wanted more, we wanted this to be a great film. It's good...but, alas, not great.


The(ir) Blurb...

Copenhagen, 1926. Danish artist, Gerda Wegener, painted her own husband, Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), as a lady in her painting. When the painting gained popularity, Einar started to change his appearance into a female appearance and named himself Lili Elbe. With his feminism passion and Gerda's support, Einar - or Elbe - attempted one of the first male-to-female sex reassignment surgery, a decision that turned into a massive change for their marriage, that Gerda realized her own husband is no longer a man or the person she married before. A childhood friend of Einar, art-dealer Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts), shows up and starts a complex love triangle with the couple.

It is believed that Elbe was probably intersexual; she looked more female than male, and may have had Klinefelter’s Syndrome or some other SRY gene transfer condition. As most of the known intersex conditions were not formally identified until after Lili’s death, it is difficult to be exact. She certainly had feminine body and facial features that allowed her to pass as a young woman better than she passed as a man. When presenting in public as a man, she was often taken for a young woman masquerading as a man in trousers.


Inspired by the novel The Danish Girl, a fictionalized portrait of the painter Lili Elbe and her wife Gerda, this GLAAD Media Award-nominated film follows their relationship as it evolves after Lili’s transition. As one of the first people who sought access to medical transition in the early part of the 20th century, Elbe faced many obstacles. The film also includes Henry, a minor gay character who strikes up an eventual friendship with Lili. It should be noted that The Danish Girl likely brought trans issues to an audience that may not be watching other trans-inclusive entertainment that skews younger like Sense8 and Orange Is the New Black, as the opening weekend numbers revealed that the majority of viewers were over the age of 40.


Badly-written waffle.


Cast & Characters

Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener;
Amber Heard as Oola;
Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener / Lili Elbe;
Matthias Schoenaerts as Hans Axgil;
Ben Whishaw as Henrik;
Emerald Fennell as Elsa;
Sebastian Koch as Warnekros;
Adrian Schiller as Rasmussen;
Victoria Emslie as Véronique;
Jeanne Abraham as Customer

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