The Danish Girl, review: ‘Tasteful, safe, dull’

PUBLISHED: 10:23 30 December 2015

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Archant

Eddie Redmayne’s turn as Lili Elbe, who underwent the first ever gender re-alignment surgery, is too polite to generate intensity, says Michael Joyce.

2015 was the year the wider public got a better understanding of what the T in LGBT stood for. So what better way to mark this raise in awareness than to have a nice, tasteful British film about the subject.

Being a nice, tastefully-made British film it is, of course, a period drama and Based On A True Story, that of Einer Wegener (Redmayne), a Danish painter who underwent the first ever gender re-alignment operation in 1931. Happily married to painter Gerder (Vikander), the pair indulge in a bit of cross dressing after which he develops a female persona, Lili, who eventually takes over.

The advantage of being nice and tasteful is that it is very discrete about the whole surgical procedure – you don’t see, or feel, a thing. It also means the film is prepared to take the time to try and outline what it is to feel an outcast within your own skin, and to show Gerder’s torment at watching the man she loves retreat from her and to be in some measure an accomplice to that – she first gets him to wear stockings to sit in for a model who fails to turn up for a sitting; she encourages him to dress as a woman at a party and reinforces the Lili persona with a series of sketches and paintings that make her reputation as an artist.

The downside of being nice and tasteful and British is that the film is inordinately dull, a two hour talking shop about a sex change. While Vikander radiates as Gerder, Redmayne offers up the same coy little smiles throughout. Almost all of the film is people talking in rooms, usually the two stars. Such a limited focus needs to generate some intensity, but the movie is too placid and languid for that. Its like a genteel retread of Cronenberg’s version of The Fly – a couple who are stuck together in the same living quarters as the man disintegrates after an experiment goes wrong. Except he doesn’t turn into an insect but a blushing spinster.

On general release Jan 1.

Check out halfmanhalfcritic.weebly.com for reviews of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Waltar Matahu’s A New Leaf and The Company We Keep.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Arsenal’s 2017 FA Cup winning manager Arsene Wenger has said lifting the famous old trophy at Wembley today is one of the highlights of his long career.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Arsenal have won the 2017 FA Cup Final after beating Chelsea 2-1 in a tremendous game that will live long in the memory at Wembley this afternoon.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Take a peek inside these secret gardens including Keats House, Hampstead Parish Church Burial Grounds and Highgate Day Centre with the Open Garden Squares Weekend

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Let Mother Earth be your guide with our top three tips for nature-inspired interior decor

Friday, May 26, 2017

Meredith Taylor founder and editor of online film magazine Filmuforia rounds up the latest from the 70th Cannes Film Festival

Friday, May 26, 2017

A man who started his first business at the age of 14 and who has dedicated his life to entrepreneurialism is hoping to turn Holborn and St Pancras blue.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The introduction of plans to relocate a 110-year-old library to a nearby arts centre has been met with resistance by users.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now