The Danish Girl: LGBT Love Is Equally Valid And Compelling

Imagine this: You fall deeply in love with someone extraordinary, but they leave the country for a couple of years. Upon their return, you realise that they have undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) and is now adopting the identity of the opposite gender…

Would you still love them?

The Danish Girl (2016) gives a resounding “yes”. Directed by Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech” & “Les Misérables”), this film argues that a love like this is completely possible – and remains equally, if not more, valid and compelling than conventional love.

In light of recent events like Caitlyn Jenner and #LoveWins, The Danish Girl will undoubtedly serve as a voice for today’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Loosely inspired by the true story of two Danish painters, Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) and Alicia Vikander (“Ex Machina”) play a bohemian married couple Einar and Gerda Wegener, happily married and trying for a child in 1920’s Copenhagen.

Lili Elbe, who was born Einar Wegener; and Eddie Redmayne, who plays Elbe in 'The Danish Girl'
Lili Elbe (left), whose life story is told in ‘The Danish Girl’, starring Eddie Redmayne (right) Credit: Ullstein Bild via Getty Images

Einar is a renowned landscape artist with his wife a struggling portrait artist living in his shadow. After taking part in a cross-dressing modelling session, strong feelings are awakened in Einar. Starting off initially as only a game, Gerda encourages him to explore the character of his alter-ego “Lili” further: a big mistake, as Einar is swept into a spiral of confusion and self-doubt.

Gerda faithfully sticks around by Lili’s side throughout the SRS, and highlights to viewers that true love indeed surpasses the boundaries of bodies and faces, straight into the souls of human beings.

Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl Credit: Agatha A Nitecka

Even though neither leads are Danish, both of them deliver extremely convincing roles. From Redmayne (British actor) perfecting a woman’s smile to Vikander (Swedish actress) accurately delivering emotions when she says “I need my husband back” to her husband’s face, their acting skills will inevitably draw audiences to feel empathetic towards both broken-hearted characters.

The pacing of the film is relatively slow, yet intense. This 119-minute film is inevitably anchored in conversations to reveal the characters’ struggles, but is quickly is made up for by the breathtaking scenery of Copenhagen as well as shocking, unexpected visuals scattered throughout the film.

Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl Credit: Agatha A Nitecka

Overall, The Danish Girl is an thrilling film because of its timely social commentary, laced together with Eddie Redmayne‘s daring portrayal coming out as a transgender as early as in the 1920s.

If you support the LGBT movement, or simply want to learn more, this movie will be unforgettable.

Directed by: Tom Hooper
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance
Running time: 119 minutes
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This movie screens in Singapore cinemas from 7 January 2016, rated R21.


Explore latest trends in contemporary culture


Explore latest trends in contemporary culture