Monday, January 25, 2016

The Danish Girl (2015) - 4 stars out of 10

The Danish Girl (2015) - 4 stars out of 10

I watched "The Danish Girl" out of curiosity... and this is a case where curiosity disturbed the cat.  I understand that the transgender movement is culturally relevant at the moment but there must have been a better way to present this subject matter.  Instead of creating awareness, the film comes off as very creepy (almost in a "Basic Instinct" sort of way).  Beyond that, this "based on a true story" film is actually based on a fictional novel that paints a fairly accurate picture of Lili but gets Gerda completely wrong.  The story's theme of “love conquering all adversity” should actually be "gender reassignment surgery leads to my wife remarrying and not sticking with me through the process."  For as much as I disliked the tone of the film, I equally disliked the acting of Eddie Redmayne.  It seemed like he was invincible after his Oscar-winning performance as Stephen Hawking and this may have seemed like a logical next step in his progression of extreme roles, but the misplaced tone of the film prevents Lili from being a likeable character.  I can't help but wonder if Redmayne's Oscar nomination is a reward for playing a transgender character instead of an indication of the quality of his acting in this role.  He had a few decent emotional moments but his effeminate gestures weren’t mind-blowing and his  voice prevents him from being a believable woman.  Will Smith definitely deserved to be nominated more.  If you want to see Redmayne in an Oscar-worthy performance, watch "The Theory of Everything" as this transgender transformation runs too much risk of ruining him for you forever.  I didn’t care for the movie but there were a few bright spots.  From the very onset of the film, it is clear that Alexandre Desplat's score should have been nominated for an Oscar.  Its themes are among the most beautiful that have been written by Desplat as they capture the curiosity of the film’s main character.  The score is wonderful but the acting of Alicia Vikander is even more stunning.  Where Redmayne has ruined his movies for me for awhile, Vikander has made me a fan.  I enjoyed her performance in “Ex Machina” more but am thankful that she will gain acknowledgement for her acting prowess through an Oscar nomination for this role.  She is the most interesting character in this story (again, misplaced tone) and made her transformation through the emotional duress that Redmayne lacked.  Desplat’s score and Vikander’s performance redeemed this film, but I still can’t recommend “The Danish Girl.”  In the end, it is a poor attempt at creating transgender awareness because it portrays it with such a creepy tone.  I should have stuck to my instincts and sat this one out.

[Pictured: Vikander is one of the only worthwhile parts of this film]

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