The Danish Girl is a well-polished drama. The cinematography and production design create painterly images. Ornate chic interiors and deep focus effects paint an exquisite picture of an artistic couple and the emergence of a dormant identity.
Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander have proven to be two of the most talented actors of their time. It greatly helps that Redmayne’s odd looks are a perfect match for Lili.
While there are nice visuals and talent to admire on screen, The Danish Girl prefers to deliver a safe mainstream melodrama, diluting a tragic and compelling story into a fantasy.
The camera provides visual cues of Lili’s transformation – a shot of every coy grin – but the script doesn’t provide anything about her interior world. The script only gives a literal depiction of her metamorphosis and doesn’t delve into her inner struggles that could have given the authenticity it needs.
While it’s fascinating watching Redmayne do his best with whatever the script throws at him – tucking his penis in front of the mirror, attend soirees dressed to the nines – Lili is solely defined by her gender. Other characters are only used for dramatic effect.
Lili’s overnight popularity in the Paris art scene, over-emphatic and readily consoling characters, convenient marriage, and over-detailed settings all come across as wishful thinking.
In the end, The Danish Girl is nothing more than a beautifully painted but bland portrait that offers no new perspective on its theme and devoid of any of the depth of its source material. It’s a well-intentioned movie that begs to be admired – and you will – but lacks the emotional and intellectual impact to make the audiences fully appreciate the pioneer in its story.
The Danish Girl
The Danish Girl has high production value and great performances, but this Hollywoodized version plays it too safe to be compelling.