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The Danish Girl

Opening Date
07 Jan 2016
R21 Mature Theme
120 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Tom Hooper
Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts
A remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Their marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.
By Eternality Tan  12 Jan 2016
 A near flawless production design and strong performances cannot mask the fact that the film doesn’t offer anything more than what it is – a standard fare period biopic that feels too comfortable to engage deeply with its transgender issues.
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“I think Lily's thoughts, I dream her dreams.  She was always there.”

Eddie Redmayne follows up his Oscar-winning performance for The Theory of Everything (2014) with another performance of note as Einar Wegener, a man who would become a woman, marking the world’s first transgender patient.  Believing he is Lili, a woman stuck in a man’s body, Redmayne’s character is torn between his love for his wife Gerda (Alica Vikander), and his desire to become herself. 

He will surely be nominated for an Oscar, along with Vikander who is in for a shout in the leading actress category.  Vikander, who first got noticed in A Royal Affair (2012) before her breakthrough came in one of the best films of the year, Ex Machina (2015), will surely become one of the most sought-after actresses in the next few years.

Both characters are painters in 1920s Copenhagen, with the period setting providing an exquisite backdrop and near flawless production design that would lend director Tom Hooper’s work a polished elegance.  Hooper, whose credits include the wonderful The King’s Speech (2010) and the musical epic Les Miserables (2012), however helms his weakest work of the trio, let down by stunted storytelling considering the potentiality of the subject matter. 

Transgender issues while controversial as it was then as it is now are being glossed over without really trying to get to the heart of the topic.  The film feels too comfortable in letting the couple’s story play out as standard biopic fare as possible, never quite engaging audiences intellectually, even if it does so emotionally, albeit with some contrivance.

The Danish Girl can rightly be seen as an Oscar-bait, but hopes of it nabbing a Best Picture nomination are very slim considering the competition.  It should serve up several nominations in the acting, and production and costume design categories though. 

Depending on your tastes, The Danish Girl may be right up your alley – it is an accessible, fairly mainstream offering that may inspire you.  But if you are looking for something more complex and challenging, films such as Kimberley Pierce’s Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Pedro Almodovar’s All About My Mother (1999) offer more provocative food for thought.

Verdict:  A near flawless production design and strong performances cannot mask the fact that the film doesn’t offer anything more than what it is – a standard fare period biopic that feels too comfortable to engage deeply with its transgender issues.
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By Flora  06 Jan 2016
Redmayne and Vikander flawlessly capture the essence of love and identity. 
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Eddie Redmayne stars as Lili Elbe, one of the first recipient of gender reassignment surgery. The movie, directed by Tom Hooper, is based on David Ebershoff’s book of the same name. 

It all started as a stand-in for a dancer where, Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander), portrait painter and wife to Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), was not able to turn up for a portrait sitting. To complete her work, Gerda convinced her loving husband to put a pale-white gown over his body, and to wear stockings with ballet shoes. It was then when Einar realised his sudden obsession with the fabric against his bare flesh; the desire to fantasise of actually wearing it. 

As part of the ‘couple’s game’, Einar heads to a ball with Gerda as Lili, ‘cousin’ of Einar. It was the first time he gets to don a dress, together with a wig and makeup - a complete transformation that he didn’t knew he desired that much. There, he meets a man who took interest in him and both wandered off to a quiet area where, for the first time, Lili kissed a man. Einar never looked back - he is determined to become who he felt he really is - a woman. 

The film’s biggest draw is Redmayne, who beautifully transforms himself into Lili. Redmayne proved to be one of Hollywood’s fast-rising star, who previously bagged the Best Actor award for The Theory of Everything, and with a stunning performance in The Danish Girl, it’s no surprise that he will get another Oscar nod. 

Redmayne finely, and respectfully captures the essence of Einar studying and mimicking the women he sees on the street or at the market, and conscientiously transits into Lili Elbe. The journey of Einar’s physical and mental transformation is inspiring to watch, and with the film’s aesthetic finish together with Delgado’s costuming, it adds so much layers more to it, especially the emotionally-consuming scenes. I have to admit, at some point watching Einar being Lili feels raw and discomforting, but there was a unexplainable sense of yearn and empathy in this uncommon character. 

As much as Redmayne dominates, there’s no denying Alicia Vikander’s performance is as masterful as her co-star. Her portrayal of Gerda, wife-turned-confidant, is poised and strong-willed, but vulnerable and sensitive at the same time. You almost feel the anguish and pain as she goes through with him, but standing by his decision whenever Einar, or Lili needed help. 

There’s something about the exposed and genuine performances of Redmayne and Vikander that makes this film appealing to watch. The narrative may attract you to buy tickets to catch it, but what stays is the message of love and even more, loving yourself. 
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Trailers / Videos
Featurette - Eddie Redmayne

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