The Danish Girl (open now in New York and Los Angeles, expanding nationwide through December) begins in 1926, in the home of a real-life Danish couple. Lili lived as Einar Wegener, married to Gerda (Alicia Vikander). Both were painters; Einar was famous for his reserved landscapes, and Gerda was trying to make her mark in portraits.
The Think Progress website posted an indepth piece discussing how the film “will open new doors for the transgender community.” They went on to give a critique of the film though saying: Like many other transgender coming out stories, The Danish Girl relies too heavily on the superficial details of Lili’s transition. Much as the premiere of Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show I Am Cait was criticized for its emphasis on fashion, Lili discovers her gender largely through female clothing, make-up, hair, and ultimately the changes to her body for which she is famous. Lili Elbe is a paragon of the transgender movement in large part because she kept thorough diaries about her experiences, making screenwriter Lucinda Coxon’s choice to be thoughtfully conservative with dialogue in favor of such imagery a missed opportunity.
The biggest issue so far has been the casting of a cis-gender actor Eddie Redmayne in the role of transgender Lili Elbe. This is an issue that has come up many times before just like the casting of Jeffrey Tambor to play a transgender woman and then winning an Emmy for it.
Redmayne called Elbe a hero though. “She knew at a period in which there was no vocabulary, no context, no trans community. She knew she was born in a different gender to that which she had been assigned,” he says. “And the bravery — the stakes were so high that it was either death or getting to live to be herself.”
The Jezebel reviewer thought the film “tests the bounds of gender, but does not break them” in her review stating I’m left feeling ambivalent about it. Peppered throughout the film are moments where characters toe the line of being interesting and maybe even groundbreaking, but—disappointingly—they never step over it.
It is postioned as an Oscar contender with many critics and fans alike supporting that idea. It currently as a 77% Fresh rating on reviews site Rotten Tomatoes.
The film is now open in select theaters in Los Angeles and New York. Check Fandango for locations and times.