Expecting to see a biopic of Lili Elbe, one of the world’s first people to undergo gender transition via medical procedures, I was surprised to witness instead a remarkable and heartbreaking love story. The “inspired by” tagline translates into a “very, very loosely based” biopic, but that’s so okay. Especially if you’re a romantic.
Lili Elbe, exquisitely portrayed by the adroit Eddie Redmayne, is not the star of this film, in this viewers opinion; no, Gerda Wegener, brought to life by Alicia Vikander, is the star of The Danish Girl.
I found myself frustrated, but only very briefly, that more attention wasn’t being paid to Lili as her at-birth-self, Einar, until I stopped resisting my preconceived notions and allowed myself to be allured into the love story unfolding before me. It would be naive to think that my status as wife wouldn’t influence my opinion of the story, and so I freely admit that I identified most strongly with Gerda’s plight. Her roller-coaster of emotions was painful and profound as she struggled to support, understand, and embrace the one she loved so deeply.
The Danish Girl is not a biopic. It is a coming of age story beautifully wrapped in a love story, garnished by deep and lasting kinship.
Further reading: The Tragic True Story Behind The Danish Girl.