Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl (2015)

 

Alicia Vikander won the best supporting actress Oscar for playing Gerda Wegener, the wife of Einar Wegener in The Danish Girl.

I found The Danish Girl to be a mediocre film. It’s not so much of the fact that it has a very shallow understanding of the subject matter – I just found the whole thing very awkwardly shot and the pacing was quite off. The scenes don’t really flow well, and it doesn’t help that I found the score more distracting than anything else. None of the characters seem to have real and believable personalities, although to the actors’ credit, they do seem to try to overcome the weak writing. Matthias Schoenaerts is no doubt a talented actor – but there was seriously no point to his character. Like they could have removed him, and I think there wouldn’t be much of a difference. Also, I think his makeup looks very weird here, and he looks a bit like a wax figurine.

I am not familiar with Vikander, although my general impression of her is that she is a talented actress. I liked her well enough in A Royal Affair. Anyway, it has been said by countless before me, so I won’t dwell too much on it, but yes, this is a leading performance. 100%.

To Vikander’s credit, she gives the best performance of the entire film, and I found myself being able to relate to her character more than the others. She wonderfully brings out the feeling of loneliness, the desperation in trying to “bring” Einar back, and her gradual acceptance of Lili. It could have been an annoying part, but I do believe that Vikander brought much needed emotional honesty to the part and I really managed to feel for her character at times.

I guess my main issue here is that Gerda just isn’t really interesting. The whole thing becomes a bit repetitive after a while, and unlike Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, she doesn’t really introduce any internal conflicts/flaws to the character. The whole “poor, neglected Gerda” narrative comes off as a bit one-dimensional, but then again, that applies to the writing of the entire film.

Her “charming” scenes came off as a bit fake occasionally too, although I would blame that more on Redmayne’s awkwardness. Overall, not the best winner, but a solid performance nonetheless. 4/5.

Eddie Redmayne 1

Eddie Redmayne received his second Oscar nomination for playing Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe.

I am going to say something that may offend some, but I don’t “get” Eddie Redmayne. I find him a bit bland and “safe” as an actor, and even though he did some amazing physical transformation in his Oscar-winning role, his Stephen Hawking has no personality. I have always felt the same way about his performances in Les Miserables and My Week With Marilyn. I feel that he is better off as a supporting actor who gives reactionary glances to his co-stars, rather than a lead actor who has to carry a film.

Redmayne suffers from a bland script that seems to portray his character as suffering from multiple-personality disorder. I hated the way the dresses seem to act as a form of “trigger” to bring out Lili, I mean, come on. Anyway, I just found Einar and Lili to have zero personalities and I really couldn’t get anything out of his performance. Einar wants to be a woman, Lili wants to fully  be a woman and that’s pretty much it.

As I always say, I am not one who dwells too much on the technical aspects of acting but a lot of his line readings come off as barely trying too. His “charm” and “humour” in his earlier scenes are barely existent, even the way he describes his first meeting with his wife were really dull and uninteresting (something about ankles, can’t remember). He kinda just goes through his lines, barely making anything noteworthy about the character. In all fairness, he also has the worst lines to deliver so I’m not sure how much he could have done with them (“I want to be a woman, not a painter,” whispers Lili with profound sadness). Some of his mannerisms are also really awkward. I could try and see it as the awkwardness of transitioning, but somehow I felt like that wasn’t Redmayne’s intention and it just came off weird. I really felt quite irritated with the non-stop whispering and whenever he does that head-tile, shy smile thing.

Eddie Redmayne 3

Like he does this…

Eddie Redmayne 2

…alot

I will give proper credit when due, and I do think some scenes were good, like his first time dressing up as Lili in the artist’s ball. That whole fish-out-of-water feeling was palpable and uncomfortable, and I think Redmayne handled that part well. There were a few crying scenes here and there that were decent, but as a whole I am quite meh about this performance. 2.5/5.

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