Take a Drink: for painting
Take a Drink: for ridiculously blunt foreshadowing
Take a Drink: for mirrors & reflections
Take a Drink: for fetishistic shots of female clothing and makeup
Take a Drink: for every trembling breath or quivering lip (careful, be very careful!)
Do a Shot: for the Buffalo Bill scene. You knew there would be a Buffalo Bill scene.
Do a Shot: whenever you laugh involuntarily. You’re not a bad person, Carol and Brokeback Mountain moved you. This shit’s legitimately hilariously overwrought.
By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
Last week Oscar went and did the world a favor by slapping down Tom Hooper and Eddie Redmayne’s latest bald-faced play for more golden men to decorate their mantels with. I’m about to take apart the dry cynicism that produces a film like this. If you have a problem with that because of the subject matter, here is my review of Laurence Anyways. Please go watch that, and thank me later.
Aka, my #1 film of 2013. Argo hasn’t aged nearly as well.
The Danish Girl tells the story of painter Einar Wegener/Lily Rabe (Redmayne), one of the first person to ever undergo gender reassignment surgery, as she discovers who she is and deals with the affect it has on her relationship with her wife, Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander).
As Oberst pointed out, there’s not a single Dutch angle to be seen. It’s undeniable that Hooper knows his way around a well-framed, attractive image, and more importantly knows how to assemble a production team that can facilitate that in every way- from sets and locations to costuming and makeup. The acting is also generally quite good, with Matthias Schoenaerts doing the most with his time as always and Vikander building on a spectacular year with a brazen, confident artist who nonetheless struggles with supporting her husband while coming to terms with a change she could not anticipate. When Redmayne lets his performance breathe, the chemistry between them is palpable- they’re clearly having fun where there’s fun to be had.
I’ll get right to it. The main issue of The Danish Girl is that it’s not about a person- it’s about a tragic figure. Every creative choice Redmayne and Hooper make bolsters this impression, from the antiseptic, tinkling piano score and quivering lip, short-breathed closeups to the constant fixation on mirrors and other such obvious metaphors to the unavoidably tragic ending with tear-streaked final speeches from all involved. It’s like a mathematician trying to reverse engineer the Oscar process and build the perfect Oscar film. The humanity is what gets lost in the shuffle- too focused on what Lily might look and act like to bother with what she may be thinking.
Something about stockings, maybe?
It’s stockings, isn’t it?
Is Lily truly a transexual? Or is Einar a homosexual, or experiencing some form of split personality? While history has an answer, this movie doesn’t, wavering between them at various points but too “classy” to pick a direction, regardless of how unclassy it is to suggest anything different than the well-documented historical truth..
Speaking of “classiness”, Hooper is so hellbent on having his boundary pushing, sexually provocative cake and eating it with a patina of Oscar-friendly class, too, that he fails utterly in both, instead delivering a film full of nudity and sex that feels as hilariously chaste and passionless as a Mennonite knitting circle. Well… that might not be fair.
You don’t get 12 kids without knowing a little bit about “hide the pickle”
The screenplay is so full of both those grade school metaphors mentioned above, overt text where subtext would suffice, and coy hints at the obvious directions Einar’s story is going to take that you start to wonder if you really are as stupid as Hooper and screenwriter Lucinda Coxon seem to think you are. You’re watching their movie after all.
This is what desperation looks like. It’s not pretty, Tom & Eddie.