The Danish Girl15
When Oscars Collide. That's what the title of this film should have been called. You see this is the first film that director Tom Hooper and Eddie Redmayne have worked on, now that the pair are even Stevens/Stephanies on the Oscar front; Hooper won his in 2011 for directing The King's Speech and Redmayne for his moving portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in 2014's The Theory of Everything.
This second film together however - with Redmayne appearing in Hooper's 2012 take on Les Misérables - could give the actor the advantage in the Oscar stakes, as he has managed to be nominated for Best Actor for the second year on the trot. Despite missing out on a nomination himself this year, Hooper isn't likely to be too peeved if Redmayne manages to do the double (especially when only two other actors have done so in the Best Actor category, Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks) for his elegant portrayal of Danish artist Einer Wegener.
Copenhagen, 1926, and Einer (Redmayne) has a reputation for being a credible landscape artist. His wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), also an artist, is having less luck with her career painting portraits. But they are in love, and have a cute dog, so things aren't all bad.
When a female model fails to turn up for a session, Gerda persuades Einer to pop some stockings on, drape a dress over him, and have him pose in her place. It transpires that it's a scenario that Einer isn't entirely uncomfortable with.
So much so that when the pair are invited to an event, which Einer doesn't fancy attending, Gerda changes his mind when she suggests that he go as female alter ego Lily. Einer excitedly agrees.
It's when the pair get separated for a while that Lily is approached by Henrik (Ben Wishaw), who is captivated by her, that Lily realises that she prefers being a she to a he. And once that genie-in-a-dress is released from her bottle, there's no turning back, which certainly takes its toll on his wife and marriage.
Let's face it, if you were to make a film about a man getting in touch with their feminine side, it would be no surprise to see Redmayne at the top of it. After all, he has the kind of puppy-dog eyes that would make residents of Battersea Dogs Home seriously rethink their technique by comparison. In fact, he probably makes the most credible male actor playing female since Tony Curtis let rip as Josephine in the 1959 classic Some Like it Hot.
In a sense, Redmayne is continuing his work from The Theory of Everything, by playing yet another character imprisoned by the restraints of their own body. But although he does coquette-ish rather well, he emotes less here than he did in his worthy Oscar turn. It's not just his performance that is a tad reserved, but the film itself as a whole.
Hooper's vision of the period is beautiful, it's just disappointing that the film lacks any signs of tangible passion, with it coming across as too reserved for its own good.
That said, Vikander does her sterling best, shining as she does as the conflicted wife; Einer may well gain a new identity, but in doing so, Gerda loses a husband whom she loves dearly. While Redmayne turns being coquette-ish up to eleven, Vikander concentrates on delivering a gamut of emotions with a sincere mix of tenderness and loss. It's certainly a performance that deserved an Oscar nod in itself.
The film may well be on trend as far as the trans-gender issue is concerned, but it really would have greatly benefitted from the presence of one missing organ - a heart.