The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl by Mr. Tom Hooper is beautifully shot, the cinematographer Mr. Danny Cohen has produced a well composed, Scandinavian filtered picture. With echoes of Lili’s own paintings; the starkness, wintery dreamscapes of desolate blackened trees and pink dawns, this seems to set up a visual chill that does run through the spine of this film.

The acting is very fine indeed, Mr. Redmayne is pitch perfect as the determined but overtly shy Lili Elbe and opposite him, Miss Vikander, as the loving and loyally suffering wife has resonance but seems a little weak in execution, lacking in the depth of how one imagines the irrepressible Gerda Wegener to have been like.

At its core, this film isn’t so much about the transformation of a male person into a fully articulated female, but a love story between two adults going forth across unknown psychological terrain. That being said, the almost unrepentant pathos which every scene seems to shudder with, by mid film ushers in emotional exhaustion and begins to boarder on melodrama.

What makes this film experience special is that it highlights one of the most important stories of the trans experience – Lili the second recorded person to undergo SRS (sex reassignment surgery) following that of Rudolph Richter/Dora Richter, Lili being more well known and hence remembered than Dora.

Narratives tropes and mainstream storytelling is to be expected for a film of this level with a general release and heavily backed with funding. There was talk of Ms Kidman playing the lead role, but Mr. Redmayne plays the part with a distinct poise and grace which speaks to the young actor’s understanding of the material on a deeper level than mere line reading.

Among the countless historical inaccuracies is that Lili died from complications resulting from SRS when in fact she passed from organ rejection due to a uterus transplant.

Although this film is marketed as a ‘true story’ this is a fallacy, Mr. Ebershoff, the author of the novel of the same name, plainly explains that he is writing a work of fiction around the real life personalities of Lili and Gerta and as such a viewer should take this into consideration foremost when viewing this film.

The film in it’s totality has been well executed, fabulously made and has some emotional depth, with its obvious attraction to the trans community I am sure in large measure it will be warmly received but it remains unfortunately not the most compelling or resonant trans story on film, as in fact, this material could have been.

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