Last year I wrote about The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything and where it fell on The King’s Speech Spectrum. The King’s Speech Spectrum is a ratings spectrum for prestige British period piece movies about extraordinary events or people that seemingly only get made to win Academy Awards. On the lower end of the spectrum is the spectrum’s name sake, The King’s Speech. It is a dull, uninteresting movie that appeals solely to the elderly and those who remember the events depicted in the film. On the high end of the spectrum is The Imitation Game, a well-made period piece that’s engaging for people of all ages and creates themes and messages that are still applicable to current times.
The Danish Girl is a 2015 film directed by Tom Hooper and stars Eddie Redmayne (two key figures to force The Danish Girl to fit on the spectrum) and Alicia Vikander. It follows the relationship between the painter Einar Wegener (Redmayne) and his wife Gerda (Vikander) as Einar goes through a transgender exploration which will eventually lead him to be the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
The main thing that brings the film down on the spectrum is Tom Hooper’s direction. I don’t think Hooper has a distinct voice or vision (unless that vision is to be bland enough to win another Oscar) which in turn brings a level of drabness to the film that I imagine would put many people off. The film doesn’t feel like it was ever in the running to earn a Best Picture, Screenplay, or Direction nomination (and that’s completely fair IMHO) which is odd for a film that seems tailor made for a huge plurality of The Academy’s voting membership. I feel that a lot of that has to do with Hooper’s vision of the film about how unoriginal it looks.
However, despite Hooper, I liked The Danish Girl. I think part of the reason I liked the film is because I had extremely low expectations for it. Unlike a film like The Revenant, The Danish Girl forced me to change my mind about how I felt about it. The film isn’t great and it probably wasn’t worth paying the $10 I spent seeing it in the theater, but it’s a wonderful $1 RedBox rental if you’re bored on a Sunday afternoon. I know that’s not the greatest praise for a film, but it’s still a film worth watching and a film that’s above the median on The King’s Speech Spectrum.
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