The brilliant pairing of Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander truly pulls at heartstrings in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl.
Based on the true story of Lili Elbe, one of the world’s first identifiable recipients of sex reassignment surgery, the film charts Lili’s transformation from that of a male, Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), to her true self, a woman named Lili. Standing by Lili is her wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), who would come to accept Lili as her muse, capturing her in a series of famous portraits, but at the cost of losing the man that she loved.
Both Redmayne and Vikander shine in their respective roles. Redmayne especially offers a phenomenal performance as he creates two uniquely different sets of behaviours for both Einar and Lili, as well as their own unique way of viewing the world. Redmayne is so committed to the role that every subtle mannerism and word spoken truly builds empathy with the audience, as he undergoes the transformation from Einer to Lili.
While Redmayne certainly gives a career high performance, Vikander is his match in every way, offering an extraordinarily emotional turn as Gerda. Vikander has to work as two different people – wife and companion – and while at first she is accepting of her husband’s desire to change, the stress of losing the man she loves causes great internal tension. The range of emotion that Vikander utilises is stunning, and she really pulls audiences into the heart of this gripping drama.
Hooper’s talent as a director is once again highlighted by his use of beautiful visuals, and the attention to detail that he places on his film’s conflicted subjects. Set within the world of fine art, Hooper has crafted a film that uses colour, lighting, set decoration, and costuming to great effect, giving it a look that’s reminiscent of an oil canvas. He also balances the cold and deep colours of Copenhagen with that of the festive, avant-garde lifestyle of 1920s Paris, which sets the stage not only for the growth of the film’s characters, but provides a far richer cinematic experience.
The Danish Girl is a beautifully, fully realised film that will stay with audiences, thanks to the love story of two people whose loyalty to one another is unconditional.
Image: Paramount Pictures