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Danish Girl, The


Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch, Amber Heard, Sophie Kennedy Clark

Director: Tom Hooper

There are a good many things to be thankful for in Hooper's film about a woman trapped in a man's body in Denmark of the mid 1920s, not least the delicate and stunningly poignant performance of Vikander (so good in Testament of Youth) as the wife of the much-troubled Einar.

Redmayne is also fine in this central role, but there are problems. Although his face seems feminine and his gestures are well-conceived, he is also tall, bony and angular; even if his female guise is not really supposed to convince anyone, it makes for faintly uneasy viewing.

Einar and Helga, both painters, have been happily married for six years, although he finds himself attracted to fine silks and the trappery of feminine wear. The crisis in their lives (which seems a trifle abrupt) comes when he poses in a ballet dress for Helga and a visitor (Heard) dubs him Lili.

As a jape, Helga then encourages Einar to attend a function dressed as a woman. He is soon propositioned by a gay partygoer (Whishaw) and the whole thing spirals out of control, as Einar's alter ego consumes him, and he eventually decides that what he wants is to become a woman.

Although Redmayne does spend a lot of his time looking coy or soulful, his plight cannot help but affect us. But it's Vikander who commands our attention in many of their scenes, in a multi-faceted performance that even rises above the occasional tranche of rather dull dialogue - which a terrific ending also helps us to forgive.

David Quinlan

Germany/Belgium/Denmark/UK 2015. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
117 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Dec 2015