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The Danish Girl (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 122 minutes.

Not for children.

This is based on the true story of two artists, Gerda Gottlieb Wegener (Alicia Vikander) and Einer Wegener/Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) in Paris starting in 1926. In the movie, one day Einer dresses up like a woman to pose for one of Gerdaís paintings and likes the feeling of dressing like a woman. So he continues to do it and invents a persona, Lili Elbe, under which he proceeds to live like a woman. In this he is supported by Gerda. Eventually he decides he really is a woman and wants to have the first transgender surgery. Again, heís supported by Gerda.

The acting is superb, but thatís what I expected from Vikander who has already established herself in my opinion as the best actress extant, if not of all time. Redmayne gives an equally impressive performance as a woman, even though the transgender community is ticked off that a cisgender person was chosen for the role.

As for me I dislike scenes in which I have to watch two men kissing each other. Lili develops a relationship with another man and they kiss. Even though Redmayne is dressed as a woman, I still found the kissing distasteful.

As for Vikander, she appears naked in one scene. Iím not complaining, understand, but I felt the nudity unneeded. There was no reason why she had to be naked in the scene, and I think she made a mistake in participating. Sheís too large a talent that she has to take off her clothes in a movie.

Spoiler alert. Since this is Hollywood, facts are jumbled and opaque. Einerís preference to live as Lili actually occurred in Copenhagen as early as 1912 instead of Paris in 1926 as shown in the movie, and when it became known in Denmark that Einer was Lili it was such a scandal that they moved to Paris where Gerda and Lili lived an openly lesbian life style for years. Directed by Tom Hooper from a script by Lucinda Coxon, thereís no mention of Gerda being a lesbian, and I donít know if that idea is only because she was living with a man who dressed as a woman, but many authorities claim that she was, even though she married another man after her marriage to Einer was declared invalid by Christian X, the King of Denmark in 1930. However, that marriage didnít last long.

The movie doesnít reveal when Lili started having surgeries, but the fact is that she had her first surgery in 1930 so for the entire time that Gerda and Lili were living together in Paris Lili had her male parts and they could have heterosexual relations. As a result, Gerdaís reputation as a lesbian might have been mistaken. They could very easily have been making love as man and wife privately while publicly Lili was walking around as a woman. The movie indicates that they still loved each other.

Another problem with the movie is that it is vague as to what each surgery did, leaving the viewer to wonder. To clear it up, the first surgery was to remove Liliís testicles (which would not necessarily preclude her from having an erection). It was the last surgery that removed her male member.

Gerda was also not present at Liliís death as shown in the movie. In fact, although they remained friends, she only sent flowers after Liliís final surgery.

There are only a couple of graphics about the two before the end credits and it would have been far more satisfactory if the director had included the information I set forth above. Why make a movie based on fact and have the immense audience leave the theater forever believing a lie?

As with most movies, this one is too long and slow. There are so many shots of Redmayne as Lili smiling shyly at the camera that one is prone to shout, enough, already!

Both will probably be nominated for Oscarsģ, but while I think that Vikander should get an Oscarģ, I would give it to her for Ex Machina or Testament of Youth.

 

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