The Danish Girl



SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS D: Tom Hooper. U.K. 120 min. Sep 12, 6:15 pm Princess of Wales Sep 13, noon Roy Thomson Hall Sep 19, 3:15 pm Princess of Wales. See listings. Rating: NNN

Solid performances and a fascinating and moving real-life story about a transgender pioneer make Tom Hooper’s latest piece of middlebrow awards bait go down a little easier.

Eddie Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, a celebrated landscape painter in 1920s Copenhagen who comes to realize he’s really Lili Elbe, a woman living in a man’s body. Alicia Vikander is Einar’s wife Gerda, also a painter, who finds success creating portraits of the mysterious Lily. Soon, through a German doctor, Lili seeks sex reassignment surgery, one of the first cases of its kind.

The film is handsomely designed and shot and the European settings are stunning, befitting a picture about artists. But the script is too on-the-nose and repetitive (just like Alexandre Desplat’s insistently lush score), and there’s a safe, generic feel to Hooper’s approach.

Redmayne, his eyes expressing a combination of fear, excitement and discovery, inhabits the role both emotionally and physically. But the revelation is Vikander, who delivers a performance of remarkable range and depth as she adjusts to the situation and finally agrees to support Lili on her courageous journey.

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