The Danish Girl (2015) ★★★☆☆

Try not to mistake this for Mrs Doubtfire. 

Copenhagen in the 1920’s, Artist, Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) asks her husband Einar (Eddie Redmayne) to stand in for a female model. When the paintings prove to be popular, Einar begins dressing and living as a woman nicknamed Lili. Having discovered her true identity, Lili’s marriage to Gerda becomes strained.

After the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech, and the critically acclaimed Les Misérables, The Danish Girl didn’t quite hit the jackpot. Perhaps basing it on a true story was Director, Tom Hooper’s weakness. The script was all over the place, but should have had sharp direction, especially when following a personal subject such as this one. The Danish Girl is a film seemingly created entirely through oil-painted colours, sharp visuals and floral layouts. Hooper grasps a very conventional approach to what is an unconventional story. His use of safe direction comes across as making the ‘uncomfortable’ narrative more satisfactory for “mainstream” and potentially conservative audiences.

Vikander is the film’s true star. She continues to astonish following her exceptional performances this year in Ex Machina, Man from UNCLE, and Testament of Youth. Her line, “It’s not all about you.” especially emphasised how not all the grief lies on Einar’s shoulders. The scenes which touch on Gerda’s reaction to her husband’s change are the most absorbing, alluding to her sense of loneliness. The film would have been a lot more intriguing if it had been narrated by Gerda. Ultimately, it feels like the story of no one in particular. Matthias Schoenaerts and Ben Whishaw try their very hardest to fill their characters’ romantic involvements with Lili and Gerda with drama, but can only do so much with dire direction. Redmayne does a great job, though not as distinguishable as his Oscar-winning performance last year in The Theory of Everything.

Bearing in mind the hype in which surrounded this biopic, the result was merely disappointing. The Danish Girl doesn’t fall beyond mediocre, failing to provide an emotional cinematic experience, of which it intended to be. Instead, we are left with little excitement, with an exception of the performances. There are definitely things to like in The Danish Girl, but as of now, a danish pastry would be more appetizing.

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