Monday, December 28, 2015

She's Not Danish Nor a Girl, But She is a Heartbreaker


“The Danish Girl” a Weeper of the First Order

By Skip Sheffield

Have you had a good cry lately? If not “The Danish Girl” should do the trick.
British actor Eddie Redmayne is the “girl” in question. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander plays his wife.
After stunning as a robot girl in “Ex Machina,” Swedish actress Alicia Vikander is even more moving as the world’s most understanding wife in “The Danish Girl.”
I can only imagine how difficult it is for a woman to accept her husband’s proclamation of love for other men, rather than her. Imagination is stretched further when the man in question decides he wants to be female.
That is the scenario of “The Danish Girl,” which is based on a real-life incident. The director is Tom Hooper, who won an Academy Award for the brilliant “The King’s Speech.” I think he may have topped himself with his version of the 2000 David Ebershoff novel.
“Danish Girl” is inspired by the true life of Lili Elbe, who began life as Einar Wegener and became one of the world’s first transgender candidates. His/her life was chronicled in the book “Man Into Woman,” published in 1933.
Einar Wegener was a painter, married to Gerda, also a painter, played by the extraordinary Swedish actress Alicia Vikander. In the course of his transition, Einar/Lili began wearing women’s clothes, and affecting female mannerisms. His wife Gerda was by his side through all of his transition, up to his major surgery to change from male to female.
Many people will be put off by this entire idea, but Eddie Redmayne plays Einar/Lili with such compassion and conviction it is hard not to be moved, regardless of one’s sexual orientation.

“The Danish Girl” is not a happy ending story. The whole concept of changing one’s gender identity is alien to me, yet I found myself profoundly moved by this film. In real life I have known men who yearned to be women, and went to extraordinary measures to accomplish that goal. This movie is a big advance for the transgender community. I am not a part of that, but I feel I understand it a little better now.

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