Amazing acting with great visuals.
Einar (Eddie Redmayne) is an established landscape painter who has made a name for himself in Denmark. His wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), has found less success with her portraits. To help her finish a piece, Einar puts on stockings, places a dress on top of himself, and positions his body in the way the model in the incomplete painting is sitting. This serves as a catalyst that starts Einar’s confusion over his identity. While it was fun for the both of them at first, it dawns on Gerda, that Einar may be taking things too far when she catches him and Henrik (Ben Whishaw) in an intimate encounter. Later, she enlists the help of Einar’s childhood friend, Hans (Matthias Schoenaerts) to help Einar through this difficult time. Directed by Tom Hooper.
Set in the early 20th century, this historical film is based on a true story of one of one of the first few transgender women to undergo a sex transplant. Everything in the film from the mise-en-scene, to the acting, directing and cinematography helped to create this visually and emotionally stunning film.
First off, let me just address one of the biggest issues people have with the film. That Einar, the transgender woman is played by Eddie Redmayne, who is cisgender – which means someone who conforms their gender to the sex they were born with. (Male/female is the sex, defined by the organs you are born with. Being a man/woman is a social construct which identifies your gender).So Redmayne identifies as a man, which corresponds to him being a male, while Einar, is a male who identifies as a woman (who is trapped inside).
So, at first I did not really have an issue with Redmayne portraying this character. However, I thought about how Asian characters are often played by Westerners, and that made me rethink my opinion. It would have been politically correct to have an actual transgender woman play the character, but having said that, Redmayne does a terrific job. To me anyway.
His performance, is in one word, electrifying. The intense rawness of his character’s emotions transcends the screen. Especially the way he moves his hands and positions his body to mimic that of other female characters gives me the chills. He has a wide smile which is sometimes awkward, but can also be quite charming. As the character of Lily becomes more confident, more of her personality comes out. Vikander as well, does great in her role. She embraced her character and it is through her that makes the film more emotional.
The visuals, from the costumes and the color hint, all aided in creating this historic feel of the movie. Because of the nature of the characters’ work, the film itself mirrored that and presented itself like paintings too. Costumes and make-up bring characters to life, and the great cinematography brings the narrative to life. Tom Hooper and Danny Cohen do a great job with both intimate close-ups, and wide landscape shots. Always knowing when to use one or the other.
Though this is based on a true story, the romance drama may be a Hollywood addition. That I’m not too keen on. It seems as though Hollywood adds drama to everything, and that makes it a little repetitive and boring. A little more insight into the mind of Einar would have added more depth to the character and the film.
Overall, an amazing film with great mise-en-scene, and electrifying portrayals by Redmayne and Vikander.
PROS: Acting, story, costumes, visuals
CONS: Extra drama
I give this a 9/10.
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