John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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There are really two great performances here. Eddie Redmayne does an incredible transformation. I love how he accomplishes this in tiny steps, first offering to be a ' model' for a painting being completed by his artist wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander) and being visibly uncomfortable in women's clothing. Then, donning the clothing becomes gradually less and less uncomfortable. Then, Einar (Redmayne) gets the idea of seeing if he can 'pull off'' being fully in the female persona, which he does, though with a lot of angst. And then that gradually wears down as Einar fades and 'Lili' appears. But it's really Vikander's performance as Gerda who you have to watch. She is witnessing the disappearance of her husband, and a fully formed woman taking his place. Eventually, you come to realize that Einar was really 'Lili' all along. It's quite a love story for Gerda to support her husband's transformation by allowing Lili to come forward, in spite of the fact that her marriage to her husband (in a conventional sense) is ending. It also shows how badly society and the medical community dealt with this subject 100 years ago, which was basically a mental illness bordering on insanity.
Redmayne completed this work immediately after performing his rendition of Stephen Hawking. The two performances stand as wonderful examples of Redmayne's incredible talent.
Really an amazing movie. Great actors, moving story , beautiful set - I recommend it.
I really didn’t like this. Good acting, but it just made me angry. Lili seemed like a very selfish person, while Gerda was extremely patient and selfless.
The timing for a movie like The Danish Girl could not be more perfect. Here is the true story of Einar Wegener, the celebrated Danish artist who became the first recorded case of sex reassignment surgery in history coming out right as publicity about Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, and the critically acclaimed show "Transparent" are pushing all those worn out water cooler jokes right into the trash cans of history. The movie is a loving tribute not only to Wegener's courage in trying to find his own sexual identity during a time when such a thing could easily lead to mental institution, but also to the love and devotion of his wife Gerta who stood by him during his journey of self discovery.
And yet . . . the movie left me cold.
For all its emotional outpouring, mainly from a wonderful performance by Eddie Remayne as Wegener, The Danish Girl never quite hits the high points that I was waiting for. There's an undercurrent of expression that seems buried and never hits its emotional peak. That doesn't mean that the movie isn't engaging. It is a very involving story, and very well acted, but something feels restrained.
We meet Wegener at the height of his fame in the 1920s, married to the fellow painter Gerta Gottlieb (Alicia Vikander) whose work was no less brilliant but far less successful. Einar and Gerta's marriage is loving and lovingly active. Yet, for Einar, there is some piece missing, something in his soul is stirring to get out and as the movie opens those feelings emerge one day when Gerta, short for a deadline, asks him to put on a dress to pose for her painting. That's when the dam breaks and all the things that Einar has been struggling with finally bubble to the surface.
It becomes clear that what Einar has been feeling is not so much passionate affection for his wife (which he has) but a need to be near her, and a need to be who she is. When he touches her underwear it isn't because it's sexy, but because he longs to be qualified to be in it. When he stares at women at a party, it isn't out of lust, but out of envy. Gerta is, much to our surprise, very open to this. She's willing to embrace her man's budding orientation even if it is likely to make them social outcasts. She starts painting portraits of "Lili" but doesn't tell anyone that it's her husband. They even take Lili (to which he eventually changes his name) out in public where no one ever suspects that it is really Einar.
This, naturally, does not bode well with society at large. Early in the film a doctor gets Einar to open up about his sexuality and almost immediately prescribes shock treatment, reminding us that this was a time when doctors could essentially play God, prescribing dangerous "corrective measures" or simply locking a person away with no trial, examination or good reason. Clinically, this was to be his fate until, later, he met an enterprising (and far more open minded) doctor who suggested that Einar be part of his experiments in sex reassignment. That comes at the very end of the movie and is difficult to watch when you know that it eventually claimed his life.
What works best are the performances by Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander who lovingly recreate what must have been the most challenging relationship that any married couple might have had. She's accepting of her husband wearing lingerie under his suits and seems even a bit turned on. She sees it as kind of a kinky dress-up. The two start stepping out on the town together, not as husband and wife but as two girls on the town. For Gerta, this is a step that she finds that she must be forced to face, that Lili is becoming her husband's dominant personality. Naturally, she feels the weight of how odd this situation is.
The film allows us into the tight, closed-in spaces that Wegener seemed to occupy, symbolizing the confinement that he must have felt in real life. Redmayne, fresh off his Oscar win as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything gives us a performance that is achingly sad. He's a very expressive actor who always seems on the edge of bursting at the seams. And yet, like his performance as Hawking, he does wonderful work in a movie that I can't fall in love with. The film is too remote, too distance, too unwilling to engage us. The pieces are there, the story is well told but the emotional notes seem to be missing.
My other problem with the film is that while it celebrates Wegener's personal struggle it comes up very light on displaying his work. Wegener painted beautiful watercolors mostly of women and one suspects that they were all pried from personal expression. Yet, the work seems only fleeting in the movie, and I think that's a major misstep, if an artist's work in an expression of his soul then why don't we see him doing more of it? We see it, but we don't feel the passion that he poured into it. Gerta is actually the one who does more of the painting in the movie and it is never expressed why she wasn't more successful. It is hinted that it's because she was a woman but we never really get that.
The Danish Girl is a movie that I struggled to like. There are two beautiful performances here but I couldn't get to the emotions that I was supposed to feel. The director is Tom Hooper, who previously made the Best Picture winner of 2010, The King's Speech, another story of a famous man attempting to hide an embarrassing truth. That film worked because we felt the struggle for King George who needed to be a lion for his country as the Nazis were stomping all over Europe, but was held back by an embarrassing stutter. The difference with The Danish Girl is that we never get to the middle of Wegener's true struggle with society at large. Yes, he's given shock treatments. Yes, he's beaten up by street thugs. But there's an element of danger missing from the film, something that I was supposed to feel but did not. This is a good and human film with greatness that is never allowed to come out.
This is an incredibly emotional movie. It would have been perfect if it was not for Redmayne's interpretation and performance. I must remark it is my personal opinion, but it seemed to me that his characterization was forced, and unnatural.There were also some scenes which due to the way they were arranged, made it feel they were comic.
Nevertheless, I loved the final scene, and that short lapse of time marked my life forever.
this movie is so beautiful and inspirational it made me ugly cry. This is an amazing story loved it from beginning to end
- Walk in The Danish Girl's shoes. -
I knew before watching The Danish Girl that the Academy Award winning historical drama set in Copenhagen was loosely based on the life of the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but that didn't prepare me. The Danish Girl totally drew me in and wrung out my heart like a tattered dishcloth. For 119 minutes, I took my first step into a world I was totally unfamiliar with.
The film follows the life of Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne,The Theory of Everything), who begins the story as painter Einar Wegener and her wife artist Gerda who's also an artist (Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina). In the opening scenes, Gerda dresses Einar in women's clothing to paint him. Through the process, Lili awakens.
For a while, Einar continues life as before, with occasional forays into the world as Lili. Eventually however, Einar can't bear to express as anyone other than the woman she knows she is.
While watching the film, I felt discomfort from Lili's distress, but that doesn't account for all of my discomfort. I was also uncomfortable because this was the first time I had spent any length of time thinking about how it might feel to identify with a different gender to the one I was assigned at birth. I'm a cisgender woman, and I haven't had much exposure to this experience. This was the first time I really recognized my ignorance and that made me squirm. Still. Watching Lili emerge in an unaccepting world was humbling and relevant.
I'm a teacher, and I was talking with a student the other day about how to explain connections between a text and self. She pointed out that the text she was studying was about an African American man exploring his sexuality in the States. "We don't have anything in common," she said. She meant that she's not a man, or African American, or questioning. "Really?" I asked. "You've never felt out of place, or unsure about the person you're growing up to be?"
For the length of The Danish Girl, I was an aspiring transgender artist and her dysphoria and the aftershocks of walking around in her shoes, stuck with me. After returning to my own life, the commonality between our two lives emerged. A part of me identified with Lili so much - the part of me that has to manage people's expectations and please the ones she loves, but especially the part that understands that ultimately life is not worth living if you can't live your identity. It hit me like a tonne of bricks how much we owe those who live as their true selves despite the disapproval of society.
Carol Grant wrote an article published in Indiewire explaining her experience of watching The Danish Girl as a transgender woman. Through Grant's lens, I can see how problematic the film is. Women in The Danish Girl are sexualized and stereotyped. It leaves the impression that all of Lili's womanhood is tied up in her choice to fit sexualized gender norms. That's not helpful, or realistic. It would have been more meaningful to see Lili's individuality outside of her desire to wear women's clothes and work as a beauty counter shop girl. Hopefully, the success of The Danish Girl will help pave the way for more complex representations of trans people in the future.
While The Danish Girl is absorbing and compassionate, it's also hugely confronting for someone like me who's becoming aware of their lack of knowledge of the trans experience. I can't escape the realization that the way we treat each other has massive ramifications - not just for our friends, but to strangers, too. And I can't ignore the example Lili sets, that throwing herself into the arms of her true self is the only way one can live.
This review was first published on Narrative Muse, http://narrativemuse.co/movies/the-danish-girl, and was written by Whitney Johanson. Narrative Muse curates the best books and movies by and about women and non-binary folk on our website http://narrativemuse.co and our social media channels.
"The Danish Girl" offers a thought-provoking story, but fails to explore it to its full potential. Even though Eddie Redmayne offers a phenomenal performance, and the cinematography is executed perfectly, the script is often rushed and shalow, letting down a fantastic cast and a one-of-a-kind story.
Nice, but so much hollywood
The only problem I have with this movie is a moral one. Acting and directing is otherwise top notch.