I was asked about this movie a while ago, but I never got the chance to see it because I’m too lazy to use HBO on demand and I like to wait until I actually catch something in order to watch it. There’s a catch when it comes to that though, it has to be when the movie has just started and I won’t watch it even if it’s a couple of minutes in. It’s weird but it’s just my thing. As luck had it though, I caught this movie one night when it was just starting and gave a little fist pump of victory as I was finally able to sit down and watch this movie.
The Danish Girl is loosely based on real life painter Einar Wegener, played by Eddie Redmayne, and his wife Gerda Wegner, played by Alicia Vikander, as Einar comes to terms with transitioning from a man to a woman in what was one of the first documented sex change operations. After posing for his wife, Einar comes to terms with the fact that he has always been a woman, Lili. At first Gerda encourages him to be Lili and explore what she thinks is a new side of him until things take a turn to where Lili finds herself attracted to men. Things then become complicated as Lili is sent for help and is thought to be insane, battles the depression and repression that she’s always felt, and then finally has someone that can help her be the woman that she was always meant to be. As Lili struggles, so does Gerda as she desperately wants back the man that she married only to find out that Einar never really existed.
I really enjoyed this movie as I watched the couple on screen at first struggle with the notion that Einar never really was Einar and was always Lili and how Gerda came to terms with it. Although I felt for both characters, it’s never fun to pretend to be someone else when your insides are screaming about who you really are, but I also felt for Gerda. She was completely in love with Einar and probably blamed herself for what happened. Even though I enjoyed the movie, it wasn’t an easy one to watch. Both characters struggle greatly throughout the movie with an end that was bittersweet. For a brief time Einar got to truly be Lili and experience everything that she had wanted to experience but Gerda suffered greatly because of this. She one day hoped that Einar would come back and it was difficult for her to come to terms that Einar was dead. Einar was always supposed to be Lili. I was a little put off by the fact of how differently both Einar and Lili treated Gerda. At the beginning of the movie it was pretty clear that Einar worshiped Gerda and really loved her but by the end, it was like Lili had resented her and had thrown away everything that they had together. It was just a little off putting.
That being said I think both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander were the stars of this movie and did an excellent job of portraying both characters. Each of them put tons of emotion into the characters that they played and made the somewhat true / somewhat fictional story of these two painters come to life. I couldn’t see anyone else playing these characters as the movie basically centered on them. There were other characters in the movie, but none of them really stole the show or added to the performance already there. This movie was about the struggle of two people and it showed.
Overall I give this movie a 4 out of 5.
Although I did enjoy the movie it was difficult to watch and it broke my heart as I felt for both Lili and Gerda. Maybe I felt a little more for Gerda as her feelings were kind of pushed to the side and she was forced to come to terms that there never really was an Einar and it was basically always an act to cover up the fact that it was always Lili. I think the movie did get across the overall point of when you hide who you truly are for that long you not only end up hurting yourself, but also the people around you who care about you. I would really recommend this movie as it shines a light on the transgender community, but I would caution that it’s not an easy movie to watch.