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Reviews for November 27th, 2015

Documentary Round-Up

     Iraqi Odyssey

The Danish Girl

Directed by Tom Hooper

      n 1926, Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), a Danish painter on the verge of becoming famous, lives with his wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), who's also a painter. When their best friend, Ulla (Amber Heard), a dancer, can't find the time to pose for one of Gerda's portraits, Einar agrees to wear women's garments and replace Ulla. Einar discovers that he enjoys wearing women's attire, so he attends an artist's ball in Copenhagen dressed as a woman named Lili whom he claims is his cousin. Gerda allows him to cross-dress, but she becomes upset when she observes him kissing Henrik (Ben Whishaw) at the ball. The more that Einar spends time as Lili, the more he (or she, rather) feels more like his true self and yearns to undergo a highly risky gender-reassignment surgery. Meanwhile, as her married with Einar begins to crumble, Gerda tracks down his childhood friend, Hans (Matthias Schoenaerts) in hopes of helping Einar with his gender identity crisis.

      The screenplay by Lucinda Coxon, adapted from the novel by David Ebershoff, focuses on Einar's transformation as well as how it affects the relationship between him and Gerda. Although the audience doesn't learn much about Einar/Lili's past other than his friend, Hans, to be fair, The Danish Girl doesn't strive to be an in-depth biopic. Perhaps a documentary about the real-life would explore her childhood and analyze her thoughts/feelings. Instead, what director Tom Hooper and screenwriter Lucinda Coxon provide you with is a very emotionally engrossing glimpse of what Einar went through and what he was feeling as he became Lili. It's worth noting that not a single scene veers into melodrama.The third act in particular might even make you tear up a bit.

      Fortunately, the convincingly moving performances from everyone onscreen compensate for the screenplay's lack of character depth. Eddie Redmayne gives a bravura performance as Einar/Lili that will ensure that he at least gets nominated once again for Best Actor after winning the award last year for The Theory of Everything . It's absolutely mesmerizing to watch him as Einar transforms, both physically and mentally, into Lili. Alicia Vikander also gives an awards-worthy performance as she captures Gerda's fragility and her passionate love toward Einar (and Lili) with utter conviction. Kudos to the always-reliable casting director Nina Gold for selecting them as well as for the bold choice of including Amber Heard in her best performance to date. The well-chosen musical score by Alexandre Desplat along with the costume design by Paco Delgado help to further enrich The Danish Girl and elevate it into one of the best films of 2015.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Focus Features.
Opens at Regal Union Square and AMC/Loews Lincoln Square.
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