Beautiful. Spine tingling. Insightful. Uplifting. Heartbreaking. Just some of the words I would use to describe The Danish Girl (Hooper:2015). Now, I don’t normally preach about what films people “have to watch” because, what gives me the authority to assume that my opinion is higher than yours? Frankly, it’s not. But having said that, I really do think this an important film that everyone should, at very least, consider watching. It’s one of those films where it just shows how powerful cinema can be, and how it can reach so many people. Especially with a film as slick as this one. Everything it did, it did to a colossal standard.
**SPOILER FREE POST**
The casting, first and foremost, was simply magical. Eddie Redmayne gave a spellbinding performance, as Einar slowly succumbed to Lili, treating the story with care and great emotion. Though for many, the issues presented in The Danish Girl are not ones that are easily relatable, Redmayne made that easier by giving Lili a voice, a face, a humanity.
Alicia Vikander is an actress I have only encountered very recently – as Ava in Ex Machina (Garland:2015) – but I think she, like her co-star, very much deserves her Oscar nomination for The Danish Girl. Her performance is stunning, granted there’s a lot of crying involved. Vikander is the gateway that allows the audience into the emotion at the heart of the film: seeing the transformation into Lili from the outside, but so very close. She allows us to see and feel through her, and we get a true sense of how life changed for both her and Lili.
On a more ‘filmy’ note, the visuals were just beautiful. The landscape and location shots were exhibited to the audience like a painting (quite a clever little link when we consider Einar and Gerda were both artists … honestly, it’s like people think these things through or something) and director Tom Hooper has a way of framing people to appear small in grand surroundings, like the subject of a painting. It seems clear that every frame was treated with the utmost respect and care, to treat the subjects of the film with respect and care, and to show the world their astounding story.
But for me the stand-out thing in The Danish Girl, the thing it all harks back to, the thing that gives it such power, the thing that makes it so successful in its aims … is simplicity. It’s a simple story (it’s certainly no The Matrix) about people, and about their struggles in their lives. And now more than ever, it’s a subject which is coming to the forefront of conversations everywhere, a subject that for too long people have been too afraid or embarrassed to discuss. That is why I think this film is so important; not only in the way it presents its story, but the story itself. While perhaps the struggles Lili went through aren’t quite the same struggles people face now, they are still very relevant and very current in 2016.
The Danish Girl is poignant, tragic, and remarkable; it comes with my highest recommendations.