The story of a man and his journey to becoming the first person to ever receive a sex-change operation, and the strains and struggles it had on his life. After Einar Wagner (Eddie Redmayne) realised he could no longer continue life as who he was but had to be true to his real self, Lili and began to search for a solution to make this a reality, while no-one appeared to understand and his wife Gerta (Alicia Vikander) did her best to attempt to reconcile her love for her husband while supporting his choice to remove that person permanently. Directed by Tom Hooper, the uncrowned king of personal triumph stories with a difficult journey, this may be highly fictionalised, but it tells a compelling tale.
This may well be, though it is certainly early days, the power couple in acting for this year with Redmayne and Vikander, both still very much on the rise with their careers, particularly the latter; and are in line for even greater things. This success is due to them being massively talented actors, I cannot deny that their performances in this film are fantastic, both intimate and tragic. The only criticism I would have, which more speaks to the direction rather than the acting, is the feeling that at times it is a little too obvious, the touching of the clothes and the movement of his hands and the fixing of his wife’s make-up, it seems like an overly simple and clean way to introduce the idea of gender confusion and identity. However Vikander is brilliant, her portrayal of Gerta shows such great emotion and devastation, it may be Einar’s story but don’t be mistaken that it is just as much Gerta’s; she has her world turned upside down and practically destroyed, being torn apart while keeping herself together to support what Einar and Lili want. I honestly can’t fault either of their performances, and Redmayne shows yet again that he can completely commit to a character and do it justice.
The actual story is, as I’ve already said, extremely compelling though given the setting of the late 1920s to early 30s it feels as though it has been sweetened, showing only a small portion of the distaste and hatred people would have felt not understanding Einar’s struggle; which is only touched on very briefly. The film however feels rather intimate, with a lot of time spent in silence other than conversation or quiet between the couple, and gives a very close view of their relationship. It is fascinating, but at times feels slightly repetitive, and though Redmayne is great, the prediction of his consecutive Oscar feels highly premature, there are a lot of highly anticipated performances from actors this year that may well be able to knock Redmayne behind slightly.
For those who are fans of deeply tortured and focused character stories, filled with wonderful performances, then this is a perfect fit but I personally find myself respecting it more for the performances themselves, than the film as a whole.