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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Classy Gender Bender
by Betty Jo Tucker

God made him a woman, you see,

in heart and soul -- not in body.

Something felt wrong, of course it did.

Real true feelings? Inside he hid.


The Danish Girl explores all this.

As a movie, it’s not a miss.

Eddie Redmayne reveals so much.

He gives this role the Midas touch.     


Does it mean he will win again

a golden Oscar? That’s no sin.   

His acting is convincing here.

He’s feminine, it’s very clear.


If Ed can play Hawking so well,

I’m not surprised his “girl” is swell.

Other cast members are great too.

This film will absolutely do!     

The Danish Girl takes place in Copenhagen and Paris during the late 1920s, and -- as my poem indicates -- it deals with a sex gender transformation. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) plays Einar Elbe, a successful landscape artist married to Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander), a struggling portrait artist. They seem to be in love and very supportive of each other. But one fateful day when Gerda’s model fails to show up on time, Einar reluctantly agrees to dress up like a ballerina and pose for her. That incident makes him realize that he wants to wear women's clothes, and Gerda starts using Einar as her model.

Soon Einar becomes “Lili” and begins to live his life as a woman. Gerda’s paintings of Lili are well-received even in Paris, so this works for her -- until she sees Lili respond to advances from Henrik (Ben Whishaw). Despite society's rejection and the other the trials of their evolving marriage, including transgender surgeries for Lili, both Gerda and Lili continue to help each other become their true selves. 

Redmayne and Vikander (A Royal Affair) deliver superb performances here. By projecting so much love and pain, they take us on a worthwhile journey toward better understanding of transgender transformation. Redmayne’s work appears beautifully understated. There’s nothing campy or false in his “Lili.” Fortunately, Vikander -- with her wonderfully expressive face -- provides realistic and strong emotional reactions that ring true for Gerda.

Based on the lives of real people, The Danish Girl benefits from Lucinda Coxon’s  intelligent screenplay adaptation of David Ebershoff’s novel as well as Tom Hooper’s (Les Misérables) expert direction. Plus, the cinematography, art direction, costumes and background music are first-rate.

Although the story of Lili and Gerda played out almost 90 years ago, this movie emerges as a timely one for today’s viewers.  

This transition has been harder on me than anything I could imagine. And that’s the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, trans-people deserve your respect. And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us.  – Caitlin Jenner.

(Released by Focus Features and rated “R” for some sexuality and frontal nudity.)

For more information about The Danish Girl, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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