Before the film…
I can’t recall when I first saw this trailer, but I remember being completely intrigued by it for two reasons:. 1. Because I love Eddie Redmayne and I’m a HUGE fan of his (since seeing him in My Week with Marilyn and Les Miserables) and 2. Because JUST in the trailer, you could already tell this actor was dedicated to this role and transforming himself from a masculine painter to a beautiful transgender woman named Lili. I should have known this was based on a true story because those films are what usually catch my attention. So, I had some very high expectations for this movie, and it did not disappoint. Do note, the following synopsis was taken from Wikipedia. I HATE WIKIPEDIA, however, this was the best synopsis I could find (the one I was writing was close to a page! ha! Yeaaaaa…didn’t want to give too much away).
The Danish Girl
“In mid-1920s Copenhagen, the portrait artist Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) asks her husband, popular landscape artist Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), to stand in for a female model who was late to come to their flat to pose for a painting she’s working on. The act of Einar posing as a female figure unmasks what turns out to be a lifelong identification on the part of Einar as a female, named Lili Elbe. This sets off a progression, first tentative and then irreversible, of leaving behind the identity as Einar, which Lili has struggled to maintain all her life. This takes place as both Lili and Gerda relocate to Paris; Gerda’s portraits of Lili in her feminine state attract the kind of attention from art dealers that her previous portraiture had not. It is there that Gerda tracks down art dealer Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts), a childhood friend of Einar (Hans had been the first boy that Einar had ever kissed). Hans and Gerda’s mutual attraction causes problems as she is navigating her changing relationship to Lili, but his longtime friendship and affection for Lili leads him to play a supportive role for each.
Ultimately, Lili undergoes one of the very first instances of male to female sex reassignment surgery with the help of Dr. Warnerkos (Sebastian Koch), a two part procedure that first removes Lili’s external genitalia and then, after a period of recovery, fashioning a vagina. Lili’s eagerness to shed the vestiges of her male anatomy leads her to rush the sequence of procedures, and eventually dies of complications from it. The movie ends with Gerda and Hans back in Denmark; a scarf that Lili had worn and had given to Gerda before her second operation. It is taken by the wind. – wikipedia”
Director: Tom Hooper
Writers: David Ebershoff (novel) and Lucinda Coxon (screenplay)
Release Date: USA – December 25, 2015
Running Time: 119 mins
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance
Alicia Vikander… Gerda Wegener
Eddie Redmayne… Elner Wegener/Lili Elbe
Amber Heard… Ulla
What I liked (a few spoiler alerts ahead):
Lili Elbe – Eddie Redmayne goes above and BEYOND with this character! As previously mentioned, you can tell this was a role he dedicated much of his time to to get it right. It was insane seeing him transform himself to a woman with his gestures down to the T! I have the utmost respect for actors who take of nontraditional roles and challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zone. This role must have been difficult for him.
The progression of their relationship – This is what had me hooked the entire film. There are times when you think one might leave the other, but they don’t. Despite the drastic changes, they support each other to the end. I imagined myself being in Gerda’s shoes; trying to imagine what would I do if my husband ever wanted to become a woman. What would I do? How would I felt? I honestly have no idea. Gerda was such a strong woman throughout their relationship. I’m not sure how many wives would be by their husband’s side during such a change. That, is true love.
Elner/Lili Mirror Scene – There was ONE scene in particular that just really stuck with me. There were no words, just actions. Once Elner has this realization of identification, he runs to the ballet studio alone and stands in front of a mirror. He begins to undress and analyze himself as a man, bare. Feminine gestures emerge from his hands and embrace his body. He gets to his genitals, and tucks in his Johnson in between his legs. He commences to grabs beautiful gown and imagines himself in it. It was such an intense scene that was so beautiful. No words needed to be said. Just beautiful.
Lili Transformation – Once you see Lili, it’s difficult to see Elner because Lili was GORGEOUS! Eddie Redmayne is a pretty woman!!!! Seriously!
Surgery – Lili Elbe essentially paved the way for other transgenders to surgically alter their bodies into who they really should be. That must have taken a lot of courage on her part.
The Ending – I won’t spoil this part, but you’ll need tissues. A box, preferably.
What I didn’t like:
I loved this movie, but I felt like it was a little slow. The progression was veeeeeeeery slow, but I understand that they wanted to get as many details in this film as possible.
This movie was based on Lili Elbe’s diary which was later transcribed into a novel entitled, Man into Woman. Had I know, I probably would’ve read the novel first. Oh well! Below is what the real Lili Elbe looked like in 1926.