Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Review: The Danish Girl (2015)
'The Danish Girl' Is An Artistic Piece of Wasted Opportunity
Well.....it makes sense that the movie deals with two artists. Mainly because, wow, is this movie like watching paint dry.
The Danish Girl is based on a true story about Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) who is happily married to his artist wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander). But after doing a favor for Gerda that involves dressing in women's clothes, Einar slowly begins to transition into becoming a woman, thus putting a strain on his marriage.
First off, I'll delve into the main reason that I watched this. That reason is Alicia Vikander. She does an exemplary job with the material she is given, portraying a character with dimensions that the script doesn't really give her. Even as she slowly accepts her husband's transition, she still shows you her doubts through simple nervous shaking and hardly any dialogue. The fact that she is able to elevate poor material proves how she is destined to become a star in the future.
I also thought the sets and costumes looked beautiful and the score by Alexandre Desplat was nicely done.
I'm not quite sure how to explain this, but I want to say that director Tom Hooper handles this film and subject matter with too much sensitivity. There's too much carefulness to not cross any lines so to speak. Let me compare this to another transgendered film, Laurence Anyways by Xavier Dolan. In that film, Dolan not only directs it with such flare, but it is much more challenging with how the protagonist going through the transition undergoes actual hurdles like him getting fired from his teaching job, his mother initially rejecting his transition, etc.
But here, our protagonist doesn't really undergo any hurdles beyond his wife dealing with his transition into a woman. Even Eddie Redmayne focuses too much on the character's inner struggle, turning Einar/Lili into such a martyr. Redmayne uses the same kind of tics throughout: crying, mugging, facing down, talking in a low voice, and cavorting his face, and that makes his work come off as calculated. For me, that's my main problem with Eddie Redmayne as an actor. He focuses on and gets the techniques of the character right, but doesn't delve deep into the soul of the character.
While Redmayne makes muddled use of his main character, Matthias Schonaerts, who plays a German banker and old friend of Einar's, is WASTED! He does nothing but just stand around as a supportive friend. This guy gave a powerhouse performance in Rust and Bone yet this is the best Hollywood has to offer him. For freaking shame!
Lastly, and this is where I'll spare the film any more pain, the film has the pacing of a tortoise race. It honestly pains me to wish a film like this to be over because of what it deals with, but this film could've been soo much better than it was.
Overall, The Danish Girl is yet another muddled Oscar bait movie that is played with too much sensitivity and not enough soul. It does show why Alicia Vikander is on our way to being one of the best in the biz, but the overall product is simply nothing but wasted potential. Of course, I'm not trying to discredit Lili Elbe's life and accomplishments. I just believe that in better hands, the film itself could in fact be one that fits our time today.