Hot Take: Eddie Redmayne’s transformation is surreal. Alicia Vikander shines. However, The Danish Girl is boring and panders toward a more mainstream audience by trading edginess for accessibility. It’s almost as if the writer and director are saying playing dress up can make someone want to change genders thanks to a very vague and underdeveloped back story.
Last year, Eddie Redmayne turned in an incredible performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Because of Hawking’s condition, Redmayne had to spend a lot of energy telling the story through non-verbal communication, facial expressions and even eye movement. Director Tom Hooper must have loved what Redmayne did her because he was asked to do a lot more of this type of communication in The Danish Girl. Unfortunately, such painstaking effort was unnecessary since Redmayne’s Einar/Lili was not paralyzed and was able to speak without the help of a computer. Furthermore, the device was actually rather distracting and sometimes even annoying.
More painful was the lack of effort put into telling a compelling story as the film relied on the acting of Alicia Vikander and vignettes of Redmayne’s transformations as Einar became Lili. But why? And not that there needs to be a reason but even no reason would have been a good reason. Instead, The Danish Girl jumped into the deep end spending very little time proving the film’s subjects could even swim.
In the end, The Danish Girl wastes two talented performers and a story that could have been told much more effectively… and should have been.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Impressive Imagery
The cityscapes are beautiful, the costumes are impeccable and the mood of the time period is captured through it’s images.
- Vikander and Redmayne’s Chemistry
The two play off each other so well, it’s even more maddening how little they were given to work with.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Oscar Bait
Every effort is made to make this story accessible and simplistic while still presenting a daring and important subject. That’s not always bad but, in this case, it’s goal is a little too transparent.
- Where’s the Heart?
There’s a lot of crying and affection in The Danish Girl. However, tears doesn’t really mean emotion and kissing doesn’t mean heart. Unfortunately, the film has very little of either. Looks can be deceiving.
- I’m Sorry But…
Isn’t the worst thing you could do when making a film about bold transgender transformation is be bland?