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The Danish Girl film review


Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Wishaw and Matthias Schoenaerts

Film review by Chris Olson

With gloriously celebrated films like The King’s Speech (2010) and Les Misérables (2012) in his recent back catalogue and Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as his lead actor, few film fans would not get excited about this latest release from acclaimed director Tom Hooper. The Danish Girl, which came out in UK cinemas on the 1st of January, is an evocative and piercing drama that is unrelenting in its purpose, and emotionally enriching in its delivery.

Loosely based on the real life stories of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, played by Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander respectively, The Danish Girl is fully concentrated on the marriage between these two bohemian artists living in 1920s Copenhagen, where the husband Einar (also Redmayne) is battling with his conflicting inner personalities. Through many emotionally distressing scenes and revelatory revelry, Einar is slowly lost to the preferred character of Lili, whilst enduringly understanding wife Gerda attempts to assist in any way she can.

What is beautiful and original about The Danish Girl, and in particular Hooper’s depiction of the tumultuous story, is this central marriage - never before has something like this been depicted on screen with such depth and humanity. Vikander is sensational, coping like an utter pro with the variety of conflicting emotions and inner turmoil, never giving in to clichéd rage or petty misdeeds. In fact, her grounded performance allows the flourishing of Redmayne’s tortured Lili/Einar to come across with graceful ease without seeming tasteless or crass.

Hooper’s stamp can be found all over The Danish Girl, with subtle dull colouring of scenes, off-centre framing of mid-range camera shots and delicate editing all reminiscent of The King’s Speech - which is certainly not a bad thing. And actually, much like the titular character, the film manages a transformation of its own by the final third, coming into its own stylish design - full of colour and vibrancy. The score is tentative and dramatic at times, adding a tone of unsettled apprehension during certain scenes and then contrasting it with tranquility in others - kudos to Alexandre Desplat for providing the musical choices and score.

Whilst there are some pacing issues during the middle section and a little bit too much of a reliance on Redmayne’s, excuse the vulgar pun, mannerisms, The Danish Girl is a beautiful film, softly clad in sensational performances and a sumptuous aesthetic from a masterful filmmaker.

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