Rental Review - The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl (2015), R, 119 minutes - My plans for this past week were to have an Academy Awards cram session and knock off the remaining major Oscar nominees that I had not yet seen.  Things ended up being a bit busier than I had originally planned (I really should just come to expect that), and I was only able to get through two: Room and this film, a kinda-sorta-but not really biographical drama based on the lives of Danish painters Einer and Gerda Wegener.  I know that sounds a little whacky, but apparently the film is based on David Ebershoff's 2000 novel of the same name, which from what I've read on the web is actually a work of fiction that was loosely inspired by the lives of the artistic couple.  

This film from director Tom Hooper is a representation of Einer and Gerda's lives from a young, happily married couple, through Einer's discovery of his more feminine side (which came to be known as Lili), to his embracing Lili as his identity of choice and comfort.  The Danish Girl illustrates the vast range of emotions the two experienced along the way: confusion, encouragement, more confusion, abandonment, discovery, worry, happiness and a love stronger than all of the others combined.

Both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander turn in excellent performances as Einer/Lili and Gerda respectively.  Redmayne, who won last year's Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (for The Theory of Everything), was nominated in that category again this year for this equally physically and emotionally trans-formative roll.  Vikander also received an Academy Award nomination for this film (Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role), and in my opinion should be the one giving an acceptance speech tonight.  

When watching the film, I was under the impression that it was based on a true story.  As it turns out, it is just based on actual people.  So while some things are known to be true - Einer and Gerda actually existed, Einer's physical transition into Lili - others are not.  Ebershoff has stated that he created Hans (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Henrik (Ben Whishaw) for his novel.  While those two are important pieces of the story depicted, the fact that they played no part in Einer's and Gerda's actual lives lowers the film's status in my mind.  However, that doesn't change the fact that two of the best performances on film from 2015 can be found in The Danish Girl.

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