Before there was Caitlyn Jenner, there was Lili Elbe, an artist and transgender pioneer in mid-1920's Copenhagen. Believe me, no dissing Caitlyn, but it looks like it was a lot less glamorous a process back then, not to mention infinitely more painful and dangerous. All that aside, this is a pretty little picture that almost anyone will find satisfying. It's like a gummy vitamin -- sweet, lovely AND good for you in that way Merchant-Ivory films used to make us feel.
Eddie Redmayne won't experience that curse some actors have after winning an Academy Award; he'll undoubtedly be in the running again this year -- bet on it. This may be the most convincing portrayal I've ever seen of a man's body harboring a woman's soul. It shines out of his eyes like the flicker of a candle inside a jack-o'-lantern, and it's just luminous. An (at least) equally haunting performance comes from Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener, the wife and artist who is freed and inspired by the birth of Lili. You may remember Alicia's fantastic performance in last year's Ex-Machina. She's glorious here, and her performance of Gerda's transition is no less complicated or compelling.
The film is directed by Tom Hooper, who also directed The King's Speech (a film I adore) and Les Miserables (a film I despise). This movie feels considerably more like the former in every way, including the pace and color palette -- which is not a bad thing.
The scene that may stick with me forever is the one where Einar (pre-transition to Lili) finds his way to a peep show in a seedy part of town. After paying his money to view the professional lady strip behind glass, she notices that he's not there for the typical pleasure but for study. After a moment of confusion, the stripper seems to understand and, sweetly, plays to this particular customer's needs. It's strangely beautiful, as is Lili, as we see her transition into a nearly angelic being.
If you like movies for grown-ups, then you should see this movie. If you follow the Oscar-horse race, then you must see this movie. I highly recommend it.
(Loudinni provides movie reviews in under 500 words, usually sans spoilers.)