The Danish Girl movie review: Eddie Redmayne's Oscar-bait performance fails to be as remarkable as the real-life story of Lili Elbe

Eddie Redmayne as the eponymous Danish girl, Lili Elbe

Dir: Tom Hooper | ★★★☆☆

The Danish Girl could be described as a prestige picture. Featuring an awards-friendly performance by Eddie Redmayne, it’s a worthy, well-intentioned drama that tells an important story. The whole thing is tasteful in the extreme, providing us with a respectful, dignified portrait of a real-life person who deserves to be recognised.

The person in question is Lili Elbe, one of the first recipients of gender-reassignment surgery. Before she transitioned, she was known as Einar Wegener, a successful painter, which is how we meet the character at the start of the film.

The story takes place in the 1920s, at a time when Einar (Redmayne) is living with wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), a struggling artist. One day, Gerda asks Einar to stand in for a female life model, and to don tights and a dress. After this experience, a desire is awakened in Einar to live as a woman named Lili.

Sadly, what follows isn’t especially involving or affecting. Director Tom Hooper draws impressive performances from Redmayne and Vikander, but the film is rather cold and safe, offering little in the way of warmth or passion. In short, The Danish Girl fails to be as remarkable as the story it is based on.

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