The Danish Girl
Some movies inevitably carry great expectations. Tom Hooper, who scored major Oscars with his last two movies (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables), teams up with Eddie Redmayne – another Oscar winner – to tell the story of Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe, a pioneer receiver of gender reassignment surgery.
Filling in for a late model scheduled to pose for his wife’s painting, Einar wears feminine clothes that awaken Lili, the inner woman he repressed during his childhood. The discomfort and fright he feels as he caresses the hosiery on his own body takes pure acting mastery to convey in all its subtlety and intensity.
Lili takes over Einar and her mental state spirals as she struggles to come to terms with the asymmetry between her mind and her body. Illustrious doctors dismiss her issues, considering them forms of delusion, perversion and schizophrenia.
Hooper delights us with his signature near-fisheye wide shots and poetic camera movements. Copenhagen is simply the perfect setting for his style: the vivid and sharp cinematography reverberates in the Nordic coloured stucco houses.
The movie takes a while to get under your skin and it’s not only due to the controversy of the subject. In its early scenes, unnatural lines hint at Einar’s underlying issues too blatantly (his wife says “I liked you because it was like kissing myself”/ “I know everything about you”), and even Desplat’s soundtrack invasively and predictably accompanies each early revelation.
Redmayne shows us a pain so deep that we actually understand why a man would undergo an operation never attempted before, a surgery that is incredibly dangerous but also the only solution to end an unbearable agony.
This is one of the finest, if not the finest, cross-gender performance ever seen on screen.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
The Danish Girl is released nationwide on 1st January 2016.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Venice Film Festival 2015 visit here.
Watch the trailer for The Danish Girl here: