TIFF 2015: The Danish Girl
One of the most anticipated films of the year, let alone for TIFF, Eddie Redmaine takes on another transformative role in The Danish Girl. The story of one of the first known recipients of Gender Reassignment Surgery, based on the novel of the same name. This elegant drama is delicate and beautiful, all the while keeping the dignity and determination of the main character in mind. Certainly, this film is a reflection of the times, highlighting an ongoing issue in many societies today – perhaps even moreso than in the past. Like many before it, hopefully this film can shed light on Transgender issues and snuff out ignorance for many while it entertains.
Going into the festival, this was my number one most anticipated pick. I was trying to keep my expectations in check but my excitement just kept creeping up. Perhaps it was because I had been through 17 films before this one and was feeling pretty exhausted, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed with this. Something felt off to me, missing even, and that the director was trying too hard to get everything just right, trying to force it to be a prestige film. It’s not a total loss, it’s still an incredibly engaging and elegant film that is a pleasure to watch, it just didn’t quite meet the buzz placed on it leading up to its premiere in my opinion.
The cinematography of the film is gorgeous. Every shot is composed and coloured to look like a painting. Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander are both exquisite in the film, giving heartbreaking and complex performances. In many ways, Vikander is the stronger of the two, even though Redmayne’s character is the primary focus. I just don’t think they are quite the shoo-ins for awards glory that many critics were predicting before the film was seen. Many felt that Redmayne would be going after his second consecutive Oscar, and while he may come close with probable awards season nominations, I don’t think this performance ended up being strong enough to capture the second win. I cannot be certain at this point having not seen enough of the possible contenders to make a fully informed decision but I suspect this will be the case. I think I need to see this film again outside the context of the festival so I can better examine it and formulate a more rational opinion.
From the first moment I saw The Danish Girl listed in the TIFF program I knew that I would love it, and that it would make me cry. It was the very first selection I made when I got my ticket pack window. I’ve been a massive fan of Alicia Vikander since A Royal Affair, and I was thrilled to see she was in such a sure-to-be high profile film. I also am very emotionally invested in Trans rights so the subject matter is one that drew me right in. Can you guess that maybe I hyped myself up a little bit too much for this one? It was very good, and I did enjoy it, but sadly I didn’t love it. The acting really was incredible, with Eddie further cementing himself as a chameleon (and as a very beautiful woman).
As I’ve heard said by others though, Alicia was even better. Throughout the whole film it feels like the character of Gerda is better fleshed out, and she is the driving force for so much of the plot that Lily almost seems carried along by her. I am very glad that this film was made though, and by such a sensitive and confident crew – it has a chance to do for Trans rights what Philadelphia did for the AIDS crisis, bringing it to the mainstream’s consciousness. I hope that it does do well despite my dimmed enthusiasm, because I feel that it is almost more an Important film than a Great one.