22 January 2016.
THE DANISH GIRL **** (vo English)
“What did I do to deserve such love?” – that is the refrain that threads through this story about a couple going through the turmoils of the husband feeling entrapped in his male body.
It all starts off as a sort of forbidden game between two artists – both painters in Denmark – which then turns quite serious.
Director Tom Hooper has concocted here an aesthetically magnificent and deeply emotional frame for this tale loosely based on the first attempt at a transgender operation in the 1930s.
Besides the outstanding performances of Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander as the couple – both nominated for Oscars – there are the sublime vistas, decor, costumes and makeup. One is struck by the rich colors – the blues and yellows of Copenhagen and the darker, warmer reds of Paris turning into the greys, greens and whites of Dresden. Each shot resembles a painting, sometimes a Vermeer, sometimes a Lautrec or a Nolde, even as you are pulled in by the agonizing drama of their ordeal.
The already Oscarized, English Hooper is an aficionado of historical dramas and period pieces (“The King’s Speech”, “John Adams”, “Les Miserables”), which he manages to distill each time into the very intimate and personal. Such as the deep complicity of the main protagonists Einar/Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, or their relationships with the side characters, portrayed by such fine actors as Ben Whishaw (now Q in the Bond films), the German Sebastian Koch (from “The Lives of Others”) as Dr. Warnekros, and the charismatic Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts (“Far From the Madding Crowd”) as childhood friend Hans.
But all this perfection would be empty without the sensitive handling of such a difficult subject as a man turning into a woman. A subject that may seem queazy to some, but after this film one sees it quite differently. That is its gift, and its genius.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.