'The Danish Girl', directed by Tom Hooper is a visually beautiful and a truly humane movie that follows the evolution of Einar Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), a Danish transgender artist of the 20th century into Lili Elbe, as well as the marriage of Einar Elbe and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander).
This is a very courageous story to bring to the big screen, since the subject matter can be very emotional and dark. If done incorrectly, 'The Danish Girl' could have been an embarrassment for the LGBTQ community and fortunately, it wasn't. But could it have been more powerful?
Tom Hooper's resume includes movies such as 'Les Miserables' and 'The King's Speech', that are generally considered to be strong-willed but easygoing. Consequentially, many people were worried about him taking on a dark subject. Admiringly, those worries were put to rest as Hooper has managed to make one of the most beautiful movies of 2015.
Eddie Redmayne practically plays two different characters in this movie: Einar and Lili Elbe. However, they aren't the part of an inner battle. One of them is very clearly the true persona and they coexist peacefully, very much like a reflection in a mirror. The director brilliantly places mirrors and portrait paintings of Lili in many scenes to symbolically show this harmonic coexistence.
Through the utilisation of vibrant sets, sfumato color palettes, symmetrical framing and vivid costume design, every shot in this movie appears to be very reminiscent of a Renaissance painting. I would especially encourage all art history fans to pay special attention to the shots that take place in the studio of Einar Elbe as you can find references to many classical paintings.
The biggest downside of the movie is that at times, it feels as if the movie is trying to censor itself. There are very graphic and sad moments but they could have gone further and it surely could have shown more scenes to make the audience enter the more morose corners of the subject. This doesn't mean that the movie isn't impassive, in fact it is the opposite. Half the audience left the theatre in tears and surely I was in one of those halves (no need to reveal which one).
Eddie Redmayne has truly done Lili Elbe justice. I wish that we got the chance to see him in darker scenes mentioned above but with the small mannerisms apparent in the movie, the inner concomitance of Lili Elbe is present. However, Alicia Vikander steals every scene with her role as Gerda Wegener who is altruistically trying to help her husband.
'The Danish Girl' is a movie that deserves all of the attention it gets and despite it being concealed at parts, it is definitely a landmark in cinematic history.