Friday, April 8, 2016

When You Break Your Own Heart Loving Someone: My Review of The Danish Girl

I am in the mood for something tragic and heartbreaking. Oh yes, sometimes I can be a masochist haha.

So I decided to search for a book and a movie that suit my mood and found Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, a book, and Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl, a movie. I just started reading the book but I have finished watching the movie, so this post is going to be about the movie.

The Danish Girl is a 2015-released film that is directed by Tom Hooper. My favorite actors, Academy Award winners Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, star in this film. This movie received so many nominations and even won some during this year's awards season. It is based on the true story of Lili Elbe, the person who became the first ever patient of a gender transformation surgery. Before the surgery, Lili was a man named Einar Wegener who was married to a female painter named Gerda. This film follows Einar's and Gerda's struggles as Einar realized that he was a woman trapped in a man's body.

Oh yes, that beautiful lady in the mirror is Eddie Redmayne as Lili in The Danish Girl. The one who is painting is Alicia Vikander as Gerda.

I find this movie hard to watch. The way it depicts Einar's identity crisis is just so... explicit. There are scenes in this film that almost made my eyes pop out, like the scenes where Einar kisses a man (played by Ben Whishaw) as Lili for the first time, the scene where Einar is having a therapy, and the scene where Einar stares at his body in the mirror and tries to make himself look like a woman. It is not disturbing; it is just... eye-opening, I guess. I had never known how it felt like to be like Einar, you know, to feel like you are trapped in a wrong body. This movie makes me understand how complex and difficult the situation is. It makes me think a lot about transgender people. A lot of people, especially in my country, criticize and even try to punish them for what they do. It is not that I agree with their decision, but I do not think criticizing and punishing can help them.

As Einar slowly transforms himself into Lili, we can see that he is not the only one who struggles. Gerda, Einar's wife, has a hard time dealing with the situation too. Gerda loves her husband, and all she wants is for him to be happy. But what makes him happy is being a woman, which means that he cannot be Gerda's husband anymore. I can see how that crushes Gerda's heart, but she still loves him and does everything that can make Einar happy. Even when Einar is gone and replaced by Lili, Gerda still stays with her and help her. The way Gerda loves Einar/Lili is just unbelievable. She is willing to break her own heart to make the one that she loves happy. I think that is what you call true love.

The strongest part of the movie is definitely the acting. I thought Eddie Redmayne could never top his award-winning performance in The Theory of Everything, but his performance here as Einar/Lili proves me wrong. His performance is superb. At the beginning of the movie, he manages to make Einar look like someone who is not himself, someone who is holding himself back. As Einar realizes that his true self is Lili, we can see how Lili slowly emerges and explores the world like an innocent little girl. It is just astonishing. If Leonardo DiCaprio was not nominated in this year's Oscars, I think Eddie would have won his second Oscar.

While Eddie did not manage to get his second Oscar this year, his acting partner in The Danish Girl, Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, won her first trophy. I think she totally deserves it. Her performance as Gerda is so powerful. I feel so related to her character and, without realizing it, I followed the story from her point of view. I like how she shows the playful, free-spirited and idealistic side of Gerda at the beginning of the movie. It shows that she is not a flat character, not just the wife of the main character. I like how Alicia shows how Gerda can be fragile too. I can really feel how hurt her heart is as she slowly loses her husband. Whenever I saw her trembling as she struggles to stay strong in front of Einar/Lili, I could not hold back my tears. The most heartbreaking Gerda scene for me is when she comes home crying and begs Lili to hold her as Einar because she needs to hold her husband, but Lili tells her that she cannot do that. This does not mean that Gerda is weak; it shows that, sometimes, even the strongest women can break and need their men to just hold them. Gerda has proven that she will always be there for Einar/Lili, but Einar/Lili cannot do the same for her. It must really hurt. Duh.

So, this movie is a heartbreakingly beautiful one with great acting and deep messages. Some people might find it a little disturbing, but when you try to understand what is behind the shocking scenes, you will realize how inspiring the story is.

Rating : 4/5

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