“I’ve only liked a handful of people in my life, and you’ve been two of them.”
The Danish Girl is immediately recognisable as a Tom Hooper film, yet this is not The King’s Speech. A pair of first-rate performances are trapped inside a script without enough heart, rhythm or tenderness to be truly endearing.
The Danish Girl is the story of a woman not only born in the wrong body, but also in the wrong time. Her life is tangibly tangled but hope is never lost. However, the film feels misjudged, as our protagonist Lili (Redmayne) turns from victim of nature into a secondary character. The film strangely gives more sympathy to Lili’s wife, Gerda (Vikander). Vikander’s tender and human performance is a refreshing breath from Redmayne’s transformative struggle and threatens to steal the show.
Whilst Lili is going through a time of unimaginable turmoil, her pain is combined by the joy of her self-realisation. Gerda, on the other hand, is only going through the loss of the one she loves most. Gerda’s pain is just as obvious and almost as vicious. This is an odd situation to observe, as the separate pains direct much of the sympathy away from Lili, as she is the instigator of Gerda’s pain. Both women deserve all the compassion the audience has, but their pains seem to compete, leaving both suitably under-fulfilled.
Despite the peculiar tone the picture takes, The Danish Girl is devilishly well shot, performed wonderfully and has a beautiful soundtrack. Yet, these elements don’t fit together cohesively enough and cannot distract from the split sympathies lack of storytelling accuracy.
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