The Danish Girl

DRAMA; M, 2hr

STARRING: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander


Redmayne as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe

In 1926 Copenhagen, Einar and Gerda Wegener (Redmayne and Vikander) are a loving couple committed to each other and to their art — he is a landscaper, she paints portraits. Still, there's a core of femininity in Einar that even his vital wife can't assuage. What begins as a mildly outrageous game of dress-up played by the two of them develops for Einar into his very being. Frocked, lipsticked and bewigged as Lili, the young husband is beginning to live his truth — a transition that will be an almighty cross to bear, both for him and the bereft Gerda.

 

Slimly pretty Redmayne makes an alluring female, which is just as well: Lili's shy plausibility is fundamental to director Tom Hooper's visually elegant if somewhat ploddy drama, partly based on the Wegeners' actual story. Derided as insane by the medical fraternity, Einar gives everything to Lili's excruciating birth. His anguish is acute, yet the unwitting trailblazer's escalating single-mindedness doesn't necessarily make Einar — or Lili — completely sympathetic. That gong goes to the demonstrative Vikander as she drives Gerda's own transition from sensual wife to steadfast ally. But there's no downplaying the man's allegiance to the woman within.