This is a difficult review to write as I am a cisgender, white, heterosexual woman who has grown up with immense privilege of having my gender identity and sexuality be the social norm.
I come not from a place of inherently knowing the struggle between the true self and the perceived self. Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl comes from a similar place as it is directed and starring actors that share the same privilege.
Yet, it was able to tell a gentle but heroic story about the blossoming and self-actualization of Einar Elbe into Lili Elbe.
The film opens with Eddie Redmayne (Einar/Lili) and Alicia Vikander (Gerda) enjoying the fruits of an idyllic marriage; the sensuality and flirtiness of a young love.
Alicia, a portrait artist, is searching for a subject that will capture her talents while being enticing to art dealers and buyers alike. Fortunately for her, feminizing her sleeping husband via canvas was the gasoline needed to burn and to ignite her career.
Einar was given permission to explore a side to their personality that had remained hidden for decades and from that spark, Lili was born.
The film explores the life of transgender through a filtered lens of decadent fur coats, silken stockings and finger waved coiffures.
If one is looking for a gritty, hard edged drama from The Danish Girl, keep walking. However, if one is curious about the fictionalized transgendered experience from the point of view of a largely cisgender Hollywood, perhaps this is the film for you.