The Danish Girl: Film Review

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The trailers for The Danish Girl brought tears to my eyes and I expected it to be as powerful and emotional as The Theory of Everything, but I can sadly report that I was disappointed. I went in with tissues, preparing to be seriously moved, so I was very surprised by how little this affected me.

Eddie Redmayne stars as the Danish painter Einar Wegener who realises a longing for women’s clothes, make-up etc when he poses in stockings for his wife Gerda’s portrait. He becomes his female self Lili increasingly often and this puts a strain on his marriage to Gerda (Alicia Vikander), especially when he begins seeing Henrik (Ben Whishaw) and opts to undergo the first ever gender reassignment surgery in 1930.

The focus seems to be on Redmayne because he is in two awards-worthy roles in consecutive years, but for me this is all about Vikander. Any emotion I felt was down to her and she is 100% deserving of her Golden Globe nomination. The weight of Einar’s troubles and the impact it has on their marriage is best shown through her and she gives her all. I thought Redmayne was brilliant and most affecting as Einar, desperately fighting off the urge to be Lili, but once he was Lili all the time he lost impact and was less convincing. His performance got a bit repetitive and it just wasn’t as ‘oh wow’ as Einar, or as Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything.

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I was pleased with the performances, but I was hoping for more with the storytelling. It felt too slow and a bit boring at times, which is a shame because this is a fascinating and heartbreaking true story. I should have been devouring all the information, but it wasn’t always presented in ways that were exciting. I am ashamed to admit my eyes very briefly shut on several occasions. The story just did not hook me in the tense, emotional way I was prepared for. I have read the book by David Ebershoff and that was hard going, yet I actually enjoyed that more because I truly felt the strain on Gerda and her sacrifice.

I have to praise the costume and set design as they are fabulous and the whole thing looks beautiful. The music was also on point, and I must give a major shootout to the dog, who threatened to steal a number of scenes! Whishaw, Amber Heard and Matthias Schoenaerts were great additions to the cast but I would have liked Hans (Schoenaerts) and Gerda’s possible future together made more obvious.

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I came out feeling deflated. I had tears in my eyes once but the ugly bawling I was bracing myself for just never came and I cannot put my finger on why because the performances were great and the story is incredible. Something was missing. What a shame.

In cinemas now 

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