Around the Oscar season the biopics start come out in force. The real deep dramas that always guarantee a nomination seem to all be released at the time in the hope that one of them gets the right mix of emotion and story. With a strong subject matter and an even stronger cast, it would seem that The Danish Girl has the right mix to make it an instant classic – it’s just unfortunate then that this one doesn’t quite have the magic to sweep the awards season away.
The Danish Girl tells the story of Einar Wegener, the first male to go through gender reassignment surgery and become the person he always thought he should be – Lili.
If anyone can bring a historical figure to life, Tom Hooper is definitely the man for the job. With an impressive back catalogue, one of the masters of drama is adept at bringing some of the most loved stories to the big screen.
While many people will enjoy his latest offering, a rather weak story lets down something which could have been truly remarkable. With all parts of the production screaming success, it’s somewhat of a surprise that we are left with something that’s just too comfortable being in the middle of the road.
In all honesty, there really isn’t a lot to say about the direction. Thankfully, Hoopers experience shines through at key points, capturing the moment perfectly. Although you could argue that a good performance is half of the job, his ability to frame a scene plays well with the unfolding drama.
With some decent direction and some impressive performances from the cast, it’s a shame that the story doesn’t quite make the same mark. Historically, screenplays like these fall short due to an overly complex narrative or an overstretched cast – this however seems to struggle with focus.
Written by relative newcomer Lucinda Coxon, the screenplay is left desperately clinging to the relationship between the two lead characters. Choosing to go down this route isn’t necessarily a bad thing but considering the subject matter, it seems a shame that individual characters aren’t given the level of depth they deserve.
Looking to make it back to back Oscars, Eddie Redmayne is great in the lead role. The dramatic moments are portrayed brilliantly but again, he isn’t really given the platform to really show us what he can do. Alicia Vikander is good as Gerda Wegener but her performance doesn’t quite reach the heights of Ex-Machina earlier in the year. Ben Whishaw pops in occasionally, but due to lack of depth it’s difficult to know how important he is to the plot.
The Danish Girl is the perfect example of inexperienced writing. On paper, the director and the actors were clearly lining up to take part so it’s just a shame that it doesn’t have the legs to compete against ‘Carol’ or even ‘Steve Jobs’. With tons of potential that’s never truly realized – 3 out of 5 stars.