Today’s review comes from the highly anticipated The Danish Girl. This film is in competition here in Venice and vying for the ‘Golden Lion’.
Eddie Redmayne teams up with ‘Les Miserables’ director Tom Hooper for the second time to transform himself once again. Alicia Vikander is the Swedish female lead.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Hooper’s ‘The King’s Speech’ but I rekindled some sort of love after ‘Les Miserables’ – but now I’m head over heels in love with him.
Let me tell you why…
The Danish Girl tells the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda's marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili's ground-breaking journey as a transgender pioneer.
One year ago today, Eddie Redmayne transformed himself into the physics genius Stephen Hawking. Now, twelve months later he is doing it all again as the transgender pioneer Lili Elbe. As he stated in an interview with me, it wasn’t a huge toll on his body weight to slim down because this was shot just after ‘The Theory of Everything’. However, you can definitely say that this performance is poles apart from the famous physicist.
Redmayne must love daunting tasks. His previous two roles have been so important to get right that it must have kept him up at night. Though this film is set nearly a century ago, it has taken a while for the transgender subject to receive such high-profile treatment. The film’s release could not come at a better time with recent headlines – especially the legalisation of gay marriage last year and Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition.
I wholeheartedly believe Hooper has got this production right and delivered a cinematic landmark. His tender direction and subtle point of view shots are sublime. One sequence consists of the camera lingering on Eddie’s crumbling face as he cries for about twenty-five seconds. You just cannot take your eyes off the screen. The choice of Redmayne being the lead has raised questions here in Venice but like Tom said… “Eddie plays a 'gentleman' for at least half of the movie and he also has a feminine quality about him – he’s beautiful”. For me, I think he is the perfect cast.
The way Eddie works the camera angles is incredible. His elongated and chiselled jaw coupled with his red pouting lips leave you transfixed. Everyone knows its Eddie Redmayne playing the role of Lili but as you pulled closer in; you honestly forget it's him – he's so convincing.
Alicia Vikander (Gerda Wegener) is an absolute gem. I have followed her career for a long time and now she is about to hit the big time- she is so talented. Alicia is so close to stealing the gauntlet here, it’s a matter of centimetres. She is loving, caring, tender and at times visceral. This lady has a huge future in film and this will be her first big step.
There are so many great scenes between Redmayne and Vikander - they are captivating together. You cannot take your eyes off them whether they are laughing, crying, arguing – it's just magical.
This film is definitely Oscar-bound. It could, if not should, be a top four lockout with Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. It’s simply majestic. I cannot remember the last time a beautifully-shot film left such an imprint on me as much as this has.
One lasting note – what truly inspirational people Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener were. They have without doubt had a strong input on the transgender movement today and they should be celebrated.
Cineroom's Rating: 5 Stars
The Danish Girl is in selected cinemas worldwide - certificate 12A