This is a movie about two 1920s artists: Gerda Wegener and her husband Einar, who navigates life as a transgender woman. With tragic consequences.
Ever since I heard of this film, I wanted to go and see it. I watched it on the day of its release in a cinema while on holiday from university.
Of course the semantics of the issue of transgender pioneers is a very thorny issue and not one I really want to look at too closely in this instance. However, considering the film is based on a fictionalized biography, it did pretty well to tell the story of a man trying to find a voice in 1920s Denmark when he ‘becomes’ Lilli Elbe.
The reaction to this film has been mixed, and I can see that it could be seen as nothing more than ‘Oscar Fodder’. At the beginning of the film, the story seemed very determined to paint Einar Wegener as a MAN, with MALE DESIRES!! I’ve tried to stay away from various message board websites (I’m looking at you, IMDB…) because otherwise it will fry my brain.
Anyway, the cinematography was well done and the cast was commendable but weak in places. Ben Whishaw seemed somewhat clunky in his role of Henrik and his beret should have got its own acting credit. It was nice to see Matthias Schoenaerts in another acting role. I loved the scenes with all the beautiful dresses in it because it was a delight to behold and some of the costumes worn by Eddie Redmayne as Lilli were truly beautiful.
Of course, to be Oscar bait this film has to be slushy and sentimental. And it is. I was moved by the film’s finale, and even if the film does manipulate your emotions it is nonetheless done beautifully and can almost be forgiven for it – coupled with a Desplat musical score. Of course, the question of gender roles and gender identity is a much discussed topic and too vast a subject to fully underpin in the space of one film. However, I loved this film despite its flaws.
MY RATING: **** / *****