The Danish Girl: Toronto International Film Festival review

14 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Eddie Redmayne is Oscar catnip in ‘The Danish Girl’.

Exactly a year ago, I stood in the rain outside of a Toronto movie theater to see Eddie Redmayne give a performance that would ultimately earn him an Academy Award for Best Actor. Eddie Redmayne has dismissed suggestions that his latest role as a transgender artist in the upcoming film The Danish Girl could land him a second Oscar.

In last year’s The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne transformed into a young Stephen Hawking, depicting the cosmologist’s debilitating battle with ALS.Should you thought Eddie Redmayne reworked himself for his Oscar-winning position of Stephen Hawking in The Concept of Every thing, put together for a efficiency that’s much more intimate and compelling as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in The Danish Woman. And it’s impossible to not think of her — and her groundbreaking transgender journey — while watching the true story of the first man to undergo a sex-change operation. But asked at the Toronto Film Festival about the “buzz” surrounding his performance and the Oscars, he said: “As far as I am concerned it has been such a long road to coming out into the world that frankly the fact that people are beginning to see it means everything to us.” Old Etonian Eddie was approached with the script for the film by director Tom Hooper while they were on the set of Les Miserables in 2008 and the star said producers had been working on the film for the past 15 years.

Redmayne all the time feels distant, whether or not as Danish panorama painter Einar Wegener, or Lili, the artist spouse’s muse and heartbreak, in Tom Hooper’s (The King’s Speech) gorgeous-looking drama. When Gerda asks her husband to don a pair of silk stockings and pumps to fill in for a dancer friend (Amber Heard) who’s late for a modeling, the seemly innocent act ends up deeply inspiring both the Wegeners.

He described Lili, who died in 1931 aged 48, as “an extraordinarily courageous and brilliant woman”, adding: “She (Lili) is an icon of the 20th century, she is an extraordinarily courageous and brilliant woman. As I started to research and meet people from the trans community, who were so overwhelmingly generous with their stories, the notion of the great privilege to play someone like Lili, the stakes just got higher and higher and higher.” Vikander plays Lili’s wife, Gerda, and is given her own agency and arc by the film’s script (written by Lucinda Coxon from David Ebershoff’s novel) — a fact she highlighted as “quite rare” following the screening. “In meeting the wonderful people who helped me prepare for Gerta, who had been the supportive one, the loved one, they also to me wanted to explain they were as much going through a transition too,” Vikander said. For Einar, his discovery of Lily (as the dancer dubs him when she finally arrives) ignites long-repressed feelings that he was born into the wrong sex. The film follows the levels in Lili’s transition from artist Einar Wegener — and its impact on Einar’s spouse Gerda (Alicia Vikander) — and Redmayne regularly watched his personal look change behind the scenes. And despite some flaws, prepare to hear lots more about it (and its social relevance) come Oscar season. (The biopic, based on his memoir, opens November 27).

The Independent’s chief film reviewer Geoffrey Macnab gave it three stars, writing: “This is a transgender story that is very careful not to startle or offend its audience. But her courage, her will to live a life true to herself, she felt that was more valuable.” “What I found astounding, in relation to Lili’s story, is that almost 100 years on – I know there is a conversation going on at the moment, and that is wonderful – but there is still so much progress that needs to happen,” he said. “It’s amazing, this conversation, and that the world is becoming educated. But the gradual emergence of Lily in public (passed off as Einar’s cousin) tests their marriage, no matter how supportive Gerda is of her spouse’s explorations of his identity. That is one of the reasons it doesn’t have quite the emotional kick that might have been expected.” The actor, who is due to star next in JK Rowling’s upcoming Harry Potter spin-off film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, told the film festival he appreciated the “generosity and kindness” of all the transgender people who came forward to speak to the cast and crew in preparation for the movie.

Every single woman I met, bar none, said ask me anything,” Redmayne said. “The need for cisgender people to understand what trans people have gone through is huge and incredibly important.” Redmayne has said previously that playing Elbe has taught him a great deal — “My greatest ignorance when I started was that gender and sexuality were related,” he told Out in an interview earlier this year — and on Saturday night added how his eyes were opened up to the many challenges still faced by trans women today. “The abuse, when she was beaten up,” he said when asked about his toughest scenes to play in the film. “I had no idea how rife discrimination and also violence is against trans women, particularly against trans women of color.” However you possibly can’t look away from the performances and that’s the film’s true power. (12 p.m., Roy Thomson Corridor) Linda Barnard Toronto’s Deepa Mehta (Hearth, Earth, Water) channels her inside Tarantino for a noteworthy change of tempo, one which pursues her career-long inquiry into id and the immigrant expertise with explosive outcomes.

Gerda is hurt when she catches her husband being kissed by a smitten gay man (Ben Whishaw) and ends up seeks solace with a sympathetic art dealer (Matthias Shoenaerts) who is accepting of his childhood friend’s new identity as Lily. When his loving wife Greta (the luminous Alicia Vikander) asks him to sit in and model as a female for one of her paintings, his breath quickens just touching the fabric of the panty hose. Vancouver’s trendy however ruthless Punjabi gangs empower the fact-inspired narrative, the title Beeba (“Good”) Boys swaggering throughout the body with bloody confrontations over medicine, arms and turf.

Even in the more liberated Paris of nearly a century ago when the couple goes to live, Lily gets beaten up by strangers and labeled as a deviant and a schizophrenic by the doctors he consults. This has been a watershed year in the struggle for transgender acceptance, with high-profile pop-culture symbols like Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, and the award-winning series Transparent crossing over into the mainstream. The desperate Lily finally finds a sympathetic groundbreaking surgeon (Sebastian Koch) who can help complete the difficult journey through complex sex realignment procedures that are so new they carry enormous risks.

She even applies makeup on him and gets turned on when he wears her satin nightgown to bed. (Playful or no, this interaction could have used more heft. John Crowley’s trustworthy display adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s acclaimed novel presents inside struggles and intimate epiphanies, within the story of timid and homesick Irish lass Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), who’s pressured to develop up in a rush when onerous occasions deliver her to early-1950s America. Except a nomination, too, for Vikander as a big-hearted if sometimes confused bohemian (in real life Gerda identified as lesbian) caught in a highly unusual love triangle with her husband and his true feminine self. Ronan inhabits her position, justifying Oscar speak, however there are additionally splendid turns by Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson as difficult suitors and Julie Walters as a quotable rooming home landlady. Begins out in a Seashores vein, with Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette as London-dwelling besties-from-girlhood, now each married, circling 40 and coping with disappointments and crises.

However because of director Catherine Hardwicke’s creativity and a rock-solid efficiency from Collette as a former (not utterly reformed) wild baby dealing with most cancers, Miss You Already will get to fascinating locations. Every detail, every costume, every location, every Downton Abbey-ish bit of the score, every scarf-flying-in-the-wind metaphor, and certainly every performance, is note perfect.

Watching yet another doctor talk to Einar about a lobotomy option, you can’t help but meditate that it has indeed gotten better since 1926 — to an extent, anyway. (Lili gets bullied for her looks). You can see it in the way Einar subtly caresses Gerta’s silk nightgown during an embrace, or the way Einar gazes at women on the street – not leeringly, but more to study their movements and behavior. Just from the austere and meticulous aesthetic of the film, Redmayne might as well be wooing Amanda Seyfried in Paris all over again. (Just no singing this time). Gerda thinks it’s all fun and games (and maybe a bit kinky), but for Einar, becoming Lili feels like a liberation – a chance to openly be the person she has always been on the inside. With each film the Swedish actress appears in – including turns this year in Ex Machina and Testament of Youth – she manages to conjure something completely different and dazzling and unexpected.

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