Based on the novel by David Ebershoff, the 2015 film, The Danish Girl, is the true story of Danish landscape painter Einar Wegener who became one of the first to receive sex reassignment surgery in 1930. Einar, or Lili Elbe as she would eventually become, documented her journey in an autobiography, Man into Woman, which was published in 1933. This memoir continues to provide courage and understanding for the transgender community and was the basis for this adaptation.
"You love Einar, and I have to let him go." ~ The Danish Girl
Set in Copenhagen between 1926-1931, The Danish Girl stars Eddie Redmayne as Einar/Lili and Alicia Vikander as Einar's wife, Gerda. Both actors delivered powerful performances of two very heroic characters. The film received four Oscar nominations, including Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Redmayne) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, which Vikander won.
What starts off as a simple game in his wife's mind becomes a realization of Einar's true sexuality. While posing as a woman for his wife's paintings, Einar comes to grips with his own sexuality and soon Lili is "born." While Gerda's career takes off due to her collection of Lili portraits, Einar's career tumbles as he falls deeper and deeper into despair over his true identity. The strain on their marriage grows as Lili's presence becomes more and more frequent.
"There's a doctor....he's interested in men like Einar, who are confused and who are different." ~ The Danish Girl
The story beautifully depicts this often misunderstood reality for some and shows how the medical community blamed it on a chemical imbalance, insanity, or even delusional schizophrenia. After several attempts at medical treatment, the couple finally finds a doctor who is performing sex reassignment surgery but at a very experimental stage. Gerda's character is remarkable as she stands by the person she loves through it all.
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The problem I had with this film, is how suddenly Einar comes to the revelation about his repressed feelings that he is truly a woman trapped in a man's body. There is only one brief reference to the existence of Lili in his past. However, I am going to have to say that this is probably due to time restraints of the film. There is also a technical matter I had issue with involving Lili using Einar's passport after the surgery, but again, just a minor blip in an otherwise flawless script. The Danish Girl offers wonderful heart and insight into the transgender struggle while portraying a beautiful love story simultaneously. The final scene is simply spectacular both emotionally and visually.
The Danish Girl is rated R for some sexuality and full nudity.
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