“The story presentation itself is a little lacking, but that doesn’t detract too much from the experience.”
So many movies are released every week that, despite my intentions, I’m not able to see every one. I see this as both a curse and a blessing, because later on I get to experience more movies for the first time. The most recent of popular films that I got to experience is The Danish Girl. The Danish Girl is a story about Einar Wegener, a painter, who undergoes one of the first sex-change operations. The film of course follows Einar (and then later Lili), but it also follows Einar’s wife Gerda, and her experience with the procedure.
I like to go into films blind whenever I can, because I like to let the film tell its story without having the meddling of trailers or plot synopses. This proved to be the wrong choice for The Danish Girl because the plot is not one that presents itself until very late in the film. Of course this point is somewhat moot because people will say that because the film is based on a true story that the plot is incidental, and the study of the characters is the only important thing. But I didn’t know the story was true, so the beginning of the film left me scratching my head a few times. The film essentially “kicks-off” when Gerda asks Einar to pose in tights and ladies shoes for a painting she is working on. We instantly see the character of Einar change, almost ashamed of what he is feeling (especially when he gets a dress draped over him to complete the outfit). My mistake was thinking that this was setting up a movie about a man who liked to dress like a woman. All of the signs were there, seeing as it was the 1920’s and society was very black and white. The film then takes many major leaps, or at least it did for me as a person who had no idea what the plot was about. Einar professes that when he dresses like Lili, her personality takes over. This of course culminates (very late into the film) into Einar deciding that a sex change would “correct God’s mistake”. This is fine, and the story really was great, but I just wish that the film would have been a bit less subtle with Einar’s feelings, especially later on when we find out that is far from a new realization for Einar.
As far as the rest of the film goes, it was pretty great. The acting in The Danish Girl is absolutely astounding. Eddie Redmayne does a great job as Einar by really bringing the character to life. Every scene with Einar is one where you can see the emotions that are being held back by the character, you really feel for the character by the time the movie comes to a close. Honestly, I think that Gerda (played wonderfully by Alicia Vikander) stole the show. Redmayne did well, but Vikander took everything that her character was and put it on the line. You can see that Gerda is a conflicted character, on one hand wanting nothing but for her husband to be happy and safe, but on the other hand hating the fact that she is losing him. There is this very real array of emotions shown by Gerda throughout the film and Vikander captured every single one perfectly. It’s no wonder that she won the Oscar for her performance.
Apart form that the film itself just oozed emotion. The score was absolutely stunning, managing to convey tragedy and emptiness, while also being able to be uplifting when the story called for it. It was also not afraid to use silence to its advantage, many times just letting you stew in the raw emotion that you were seeing. The set design, and costumes were magnificent as they not only transported you to the correct time period but they also complimented the mood of the film. The direction was also very well done. Many scenes used interesting camera angles letting your mind fill in the blanks while still conveying what was happening, and other scenes again making you feel alone in a vast landscape.
Ultimately The Danish Girl is a tragic story, made great by performances and technical aspects. The story presentation itself is a little lacking, but that doesn’t detract too much from the experience.
I give The Danish Girl a B