(The Guardian) The story of Danish gender reassignment pioneer Einar Wegener and her transformation into Lili Elbe becomes a handsome but over-tasteful film in director Tom Hooper’s hands.
The point about The Danish Girl, of course, is that it has two Danish heroines – and that one of them started life as a Danish boy. Adapted by Lucinda Coxon from David Ebershoff’s novel, Tom Hooper’s film retells a true-life story: that of painter Einar Wegener, who underwent a pioneering gender reassignment operation in the 1930s to become Lili Elbe. Einar/Lili is played by Eddie Redmayne, who is certain to reap plentiful laurels in the forthcoming awards season, with another role – following his Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything – about a slow process of physical and psychological transformation. And no doubt this sumptuously mounted, high-minded and unabashedly Oscar-baiting undertaking will overall emerge dripping with honours.
But well-meaning and polished as it is, The Danish Girl is a determinedly mainstream melodrama that doesn’t really offer new perspectives its theme; and in the year of Caitlyn Jenner, it’s a theme on which mainstream audiences are ready for more trenchant insight.