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The Danish Girl  : Decoding Gender Confusion
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Friday, January 15, 2016
Tom Hooper
Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw

The story of pathbreaking transgender Einar Wegener doesn’t startle in 2016. But considering it happened nearly a century ago in 1926, when gender ambivalence was certified as insanity, the transformation of Einar into Lili who lay latent inside him, requires an empathy that didn’t exist then.


It’s the early 90s in Copenhagen when landscape artist Einar and his wife Gerda are like any couple in love, being there for each other and having their active romps in bed. She does portraits that don’t impress the gallery owner until a little game the Wegeners play between them goes too far.


It begins imperceptibly when she asks him to slip on stockings and pose for one of her paintings until her model arrives. And then comes an artists’ ball when Gerda just for kicks, takes Einar there dressed as her husband’s cousin Lili. Lili has made her debut in their lives. Gerda unwittingly compounds it by painting a series of nudes with Lili as her model and the indifferent gallerist is now enthused.


It’s the beginning of the end for the husband and wife when they move to Paris for her exhibition. Lili has become a reality, landscape artist Einar has faded away. The couple’s love and friendship is on test as Gerda accepts the transformation of Einar into full-blown Lili. As the one understanding surgeon willing to attempt the operations tells Gerda, “When I’m done with your husband, he won’t be your husband anymore.”


Tom Hooper’s direction is leisurely and Lucinda KAAK SUN Coxon’s screenplay could have done away with routine additions like Einar or Lili if you must, being taunted and beaten up in the park by strangers.


The disturbing state of Einar and that of his wife too, gets elevated mainly by Eddie Redmayne’s superlative act which begins with a pair of stockings. It’s stark when he stands nude before the mirror, tucks away his male part, and finds the woman’s body hidden inside him so much more pleasurable. Eddie stunned us with his Oscar-winning wheelchair-bound performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything in 2014. He does it again when Einar imbibes a woman’s mannerisms and enjoys the gaze of a man as Lili.


The very attractive Alicia Vikander as the wife who stands by Einar till the final act is the perfect partner in this true-life human drama.


For a sensitive film on gender transition, The Danish Girl gets a 3* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Journalist & Author
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