Incredibly intimate, and moving Tom Hooper’s new film The Danish Girl follows the incredible story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander).

We are introduced to Lili – but living as Einar Wegener in 1925 Copenhagen with wife Gerda. Both are commissioned painters who’s love for each other is strong, but there is something of a disconnect between them. All of this changes one day when Gerda asks her husband to fill in for a model so she can finish a painting for a deadline. The experience is transformative for Einar, and Gerda sees it at first as a playful discovery. So playful in fact that Gerda takes her husband on an outing as “Lilli”. Their dancer friend Ulla (Amber Heard) came up with the name upon walking in on the sitting. The scenes of Einar’s transformation are among the most beautifully constructed in the film.

In what might be one of the best movie makeover ever Lilli is brought to the surface. Soon Einar realizes that being Lilli means something a little more than dress up, and see her as true person whom she really is. Gerda finds her as an unexpected muse for her own art while Lili slowly begins to live her new life as a woman. Against societies disapproval the couple retreat to the Paris where they begin to move forward with Lili’s journey as a transgender woman.

Trans civil rights have come quite a ways from the 1920s, but how Hooper tackles the daring subject matter head on is particular breakthrough. There hasn’t ever quite been a film like it that’s examines this journey. There are intense emotions going on in this story, and Danny Cohen’s gorgeous photography, and screenwriter’s Lucinda Coxon observant script does Lilli’s brave journey justice.


What makes this film work as well as it does it both Redmayne, and Vikander’s impressive lead performances. Both actors plays off each other brilliantly, and there’s never a moment between them that seems contrived or false. Fresh off his Oscar win for playing an equally immersive performance as Steven Hawking in The Theory of Everything Rebmayne is terrific, and it would be tough to walk away from this movie and not be moved by Lili’s journey. Alicia Vikander has had quite year, and this performance is this icing on the cake. She’s the real deal here, and one that would be nearly impossible not to recognize -she’s being campaigned in lead for the Golden Globes, and supporting for the Oscars. It also should be noted there is a well used supporting cast that includes memorable turns by Amber Heard, and Ben Whishaw.

The Danish Girl is a unique love story, but it’s also about friendship. We’d all be lucky if we had someone like Gerda’s in our lives. It’s a story about learning to love yourself, and discovering one’s true authentic self. It’s brave, touching, and a film I’ll remember forever.