30 ene. 2016

The Danish Girl (6/10): Strong performances, but familiar biopic.

"I love you, because you are the only person who made sense of me. And made me, possible."

Tom Hooper's latest film is a fictionalized portrayal of real life Danish artists Einar and Gerda Wegener. It is a period piece that reimagines the love story between these two artists. Einar who later becomes Lili is recognized as one of the pioneers in transgender, but the film takes many liberties and is far from representing the true relationship between the artists. Alicia Vikander plays Gerda, the artist who painted her husband as a lady. Eddie Redmayne is Einar Wegener, who after enjoying the transformation in his wife's painting discovers himself as Lili. The film focuses on the couple's struggle to accept these changes, although history proves that this depicted love story is far from true. David Ebershoff's novel takes several liberties, ignoring the fact that Gerda herself was a lesbian. 

Now that I got that settled and out of the way, I can focus on the film itself. It is a formulaic biopic that does little to stand out from other period pieces. This is my fourth Tom Hooper film and despite being gorgeously filmed, I found it to be one of his weakest efforts. My favorite from him continues to be The Damned Untied, which ironically was the first film from him I've seen. The King's Speech and Les Miserables were also movies I enjoyed, but to a lesser degree. The Danish Girl has a fantastic production design, but it stands out exclusively for its two lead performances. Both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander are superb and worthy of their Oscar nominations. Redmayne comes fresh out of his Oscar win for portraying Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but I think his performance here is even better and just as physically demanding as his previous one. He probably won't win, but I think this performance is stronger. Vikander has had a wonderful year after her stunning performance in Ex Machina. Here she gets to shine along Redmayne and even steals several scenes from him. Ever since I first saw her in the Danish film, A Royal Affair, I've always been a fan of Vikander's work. This might be her best performance to date, but competing against Kate Winslet in the supporting category for this year's Oscar will make it hard for her to stand a chance.  The Danish Girl is worth the watch for the strong performances alone, but there isn't much more to the story. I found the pacing a bit dull and lost interest in the story halfway through. The Danish Girl is a forgettable formulaic biopic, but it's worth the watch for the fantastic performances.


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