The Danish Girl film review

Written by Jessica Lunan


It’s not often that a love story can create a surreal mix of emotions, yet The Danish Girl does exactly that.

Set in Copenhagen and Paris during the late 1920s, The Danish Girl is the semi-biographic film of self-discovery based upon the life of pioneering transgender woman, Lili Elbe, portrayed by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne.

The film, directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper, opens with the beautiful marriage between successful, yet reserved, landscape artist, Einar Wegener and his carefree, up-and-coming portraitist wife, Gerda, played by Alicia Vikander.


Needing to meet a deadline, Gerda asks her husband to don a dress and heels and model for her. They jokingly refer to Einar’s new aesthetic as Lili, yet as the film develops it becomes clear that Einar has found his true identity as Lili. Einar’s reserved personality soon dissolves as he begins living his life as a woman.

Throughout the movie you can’t help but feel empathetic towards Lili and Gerda. The pain and confusion that both antagonists feel is incredibly clear. It’s much easier said to believe that Gerda is being selfish for wanting her husband back, and that Lili is being greedy for living as who she feels truly happy being.

The topic of transgender has been a major subject of discussion throughout 2015, especially with Caitlin Jenner’s transition. The film delicately portrays the topic, and it’s eye-opening to see how far society has come in accepting the LGBTQ community. This becomes increasingly clear through Lili being labelled schizophrenic by doctors, and receiving radiation therapy to ‘cure’ her from being transgender.


Eddie Redmayne plays an amazing part as Lili Elbe. There is naturalness to his portrayal, and it is clear to see why he has won an Academy award for his depiction of Stephen Hawkings in The Theory Of Everything. Amber Heard also makes an appearance in the film, portraying the successful ballerina and close friend of Lili and Gerda’s, Oola Paulson. Yet, it is Alicia Vikander’s emotional performance as Gerda, which is truly awe-inspiring. You can’t help but feel empathetic and admiration of her loyalty and love for her husband.

While the storyline is lacking at times, the extraordinary 1920s fashions, created by costume designer Paco Delgado, will capture your attention. Filled with chic, elegant designs that the 20s are renowned for, the film will leave you wanting to style your hair in pin curls and wear a flapper-style dress.

If you’re looking for an emotional, and at times confronting film this summer (or just wanting to drool over some incredible costumes), The Danish Girl is definitely the one for you.