Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl is based on the true story of Lily, who was one of the first to undergo a sex-change surgery during the early 1900s. Lily’s identity is hidden behind Einar as she tries to deny her true self. Einar is all that a man is meant to be; he is successful in his career, supporting of his wife Gerda’s career, and dedicated to their marriage.
Without giving too much away, Gerda asks Einar to pose as a female model for her paintings. Inspired by her husband’s appearance, Gerda creates several portraits of Einar as a woman who they name Lily. Lily becomes Gerda’s muse and art dealers everywhere falls in love with the intriguing woman in the portraits – the Danish Girl.
What Gerda did not anticipate was that Einar was beginning to realize his attraction to the physical appearance of women. He realizes that he identifies more as Lily and her journey for sex reassignment surgery begins.
I had the privilege of watching a special screening of The Danish Girl during the Toronto International Film Festival in September and I’m still not over it. The Danish Girl brought out strong, mesmerizing performances by lead actor Eddie Redmayne and lead actress Alicia Vikander, and although the focus is on Redmayne’s transgender character Lily, it was the story of Gerda that really resonated with me.
What heartache must she have felt loving the person in front of her – her husband – and knowing that he no longer exists ? Einar is no longer there to love her, but Gerda continues to support Lily with the only love that is now acceptable: the love for a friend. There was no closure for Gerda; Einar did not die or cheat or hurt – he simply changed. Such strength! I’ll admit I cried a little (ok, a lot). Vikander undoubtedly deserves an Oscar nod for this performance. She was absolutely captivating!
Check out the trailer below and be sure to watch the film, which hits theatres in North America this weekend (November 27, limited release)!