Skip to main content

Danny McBride stars as Dundee’s Son In Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home

Movie Review: 'The Danish Girl'

The Danish Girl is a powerful, poignant frontrunner in a home-hum Oscar race.

Review by Matt Cummings

In a time when transgender and gay rights have taken center stage, a film about an early 20th Century pioneer might seem like someone trying to jump onto the Caitlin Jenner Bandwagon. But The Danish Girl is much more than that, rising to become an instant Oscar frontrunner with its witty and tragic storytelling and awards-worthy lead performances.

The Danish painter Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) are a loving and successful couple whose open sexuality make them something of nuisance to early 20th Century conventions. But hidden deep in the recesses of Einar's mind is the alter ego Lili Elbe, who worries about the reaction society might have if they learn of her existence. When a chance event allows Einar to unleash his doppleganger, Gerda realizes that this is no passing fancy. Struggling to maintain her marriage and her sanity, Gerda enlists the help of a doctor who might be able to help by performing the world's first sex change operation on her husband. But as she soon realizes, the effect could undo her marriage and place Lili's life at risk.

Make no mistake, its subject matter still quickens the pulse; but like any legitimate Oscar contender, you can feel the weight of the storytelling. Here, its message is so powerful that it struggles to break free of the conventional means of telling it. Some will view that message as heresy, while others will walk out because of its in-your-face sexuality (there's serious nudity here). But dig deeper and you'll find a classic story of obsession and sacrifice, wrapped up in some of the best direction of the year. Tom Hooper executes his film with the skill of a master painter, commanding both the pretty landscapes of Europe with the sometimes stark world in which the Wegeners struggle to re-identify themselves. Hooper gets the humanity of what's at stake and lets Redmayne unleash his brilliance, unfazed by the possible consequences of a film that could have become overly dramatic or polished for mainstream effect. As Elnar's true colors begin to show, Redmayne beautifully transforms while allowing Elnar's obsession overtake him. It's such a compelling performance, but not even the best one.

That honor goes to Vikander, who makes a strong case for Oscar consideration. She plays both dutiful wife and victim with charm and loads of sexuality, becoming the brightest light in the room, even when the burden of adjusting to her new world becomes too much. This is as much Gerda's story as it is Lili's: to watch a young, vivacious soul like Gerda reduced to a tragic bystander is heartbreaking, and Vikander makes the most of it. Check out the scene where she plays borderline bisexual dominatrix with just enough sizzle to make a poser in an early scene sweat; it's the destruction of early 20th Century conventions as haven't seen in awhile.

And still, a film like The Danish Girl could be the most controversial of the year: the destruction of a marriage over a deep-seeded obsession, openly gay and sexually-available artists donning 19th Century attire and behaviors, and the idea of doctors labeling homosexual and transgender affiliations as mental illness. It's all there, along with some of the best dialogue of the year. Writer Lucinda Coxon crafts her script (based on the novel by David Ebershoff) knowing that the quality of the tale is more important than the reaction it will receive. She enriches her characters with both witty repartee and tragic regrets, granting even Amber Heard's few scenes with enough energy to almost complete her arc. That's the way a story should be told.

Two camps will inevitably rise from this story: some will cheer Lili's perseverance in the face of unimaginable consequences, while others will deride the destruction of a marriage over one man's self-centered obsession. Whatever side on which you land, one cannot debate the quality behind The Danish Girl and the questions it will no doubt raise.

Beautifully shot and spryly acted, The Danish Girl breaks many barriers on its way to becoming a frontrunner Oscar candidate. It's not big on re-watchability, but with such a poignant and powerful message in its sails, you have to think this story of obsession and sacrifice will be rewarded come February.

The Danish Girl is rated R for some sexuality and full nudity and has a runtime of 120 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.


Popular posts from this blog

NEW Clip From SABOTAGE And Images From Surprise Screening

Things get heated between Arnold and his team in this tense new clip from SABOTAGE. This brand new clip shows how pressure begins to rise between this elite DEA squad, as everything starts unraveling after a big drug bust. From the writer of Training Day and the director of End of Watch, this thriller will have you guessing until the end. Get to the bottom of this mystery on MARCH 28th- but until then, be sure to watch the new clip below.

This past weekend Arnold Schwarzenegger gave fans a BIG surprise at the annual ARNOLD SPORTS FESTIVAL, where he and Joe Manganiello met with fans at a special screening of SABOTAGE! Just after that, the dynamic duo headed over to Chicago for another surprise appearance.

SABOTAGE hits theaters everywhere MARCH 28th, 2014!

In "SABOTAGE", Arnold Schwarzenegger leads an elite DEA task force that takes on the world's deadliest drug cartels. When the team successfully executes a high-stakes raid on a cartel safe house, they think their work i…

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See DEN OF THIEVES In OHIO

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See DEN OF THIEVES on January 16th at 7:00 PM in OHIO.

Every day, $120mm in cash is taken out of circulation and destroyed by the Los Angeles Branch of the Federal Reserve - unless a notorious, elite crew of bank robbers can pull off the ultimate heist and get to the money first... right under the noses of LA's most feared division in law enforcement.

The film stars Gerard Butler, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, O’Shea Jackson Jr and Pablo Schreiber.


In Theaters January 19, 2018





This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into th…


From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.

Directed by Ava DuVernay from a screenplay by Jennifer Lee based upon the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle in Time” stars: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peňa, Storm Reid, Levi Miller and Deric McCabe with Zach Galifianakis and Chris Pine.

Discuss this with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms

Please Leave A Comment-