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Sunday, February 28, 2016

'The Danish Girl' BD: Portrait of the Young Male Artist as a Woman

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[EDITOR'S NOTE: A desire to timely publish this review combined with the Academy Awards occurring during a "hibernation" period for this site is the reason for this post preceding learning whether "The Danish Girl" wins any of the four Oscars that it richly deserves. A follow-up post will report on the results of those nominations.]

The 2015 Four-Oscar nominated (and BAFTA robbed) drama "The Danish Girl," which Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing on Blu-ray and DVD on March 1 2016, is as uber-awesome as much for what it is not as for what it is. Strong distaste for transgender-oriented fare such as "I am Cait" and "Transendence" created dread that "Danish" would be more like the '80s Tom Hanks cross-dressing sitcom "Bosom Buddies" than the beautiful and sensitive (but not saccharine) period-piece biopic that it is.

The following YouTube clip of the "Girl" trailer nicely conveys the quality and style (as well as the overall fun) described above.

Eddie Redmayne, whose previous credits include his Oscar-winning performance as Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything" (and whose future credits should include the 14th (skipping over 13) Doctor on "Doctor Who"), delivers a Best Actor caliber perforamce as the titular 1920s European model Lili Elbe nee successful male painter Einar Wegener.

"Girl" opens with Wegener seemingly literally and figuratively comfortable in his clothes and happy enough in his marriage when wife/fellow artist Gerda (played by the very prolific Alicia Vikander) persuades him to pose in high heels and stockings. This opening of Pandora's Box leads to the previously controllable initial desire of Einar to dress as a woman to intensify. This, in turn, leads to Einar wanting to fully live as a woman. The related benefit to the career of Gerda provides additional motivation to trade in cotton boxers for silk panties.

The artistry in the script, the acting, the directing by Oscar winner Tom Hooper, and the period settings and costumes all relate to the perfect pacing of the film and (mostly) absence of melodrama. The audience sees the transition and the anguish related to Einar becoming Lili. A scene in which Einar relates a failed attempt to spend the entire day as that persona is one of numerous excellent depictions of his struggle to discover (and accept) his true identity. Redmayne puts his acting skills to good use in conveying that angst and his responses to the reactions of others.

The focus in the later scenes includes Einar deciding to undergo  a very dangerous experimental procedure. The ending is not necessarily one out of Hollywood but is as effective as any fictional conclusion to a story.

The special feature consists of a "Making of" documentary.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Girl" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.