DAN­ISH GIRLS

Red­mayne, Vikan­der star in pe­riod drama

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIE LISTINGS - By John Bei­fuss

“The Dan­ish Girl” gives Ed­die Red­mayne — who ear­lier this year won the Best Ac­tor Os­car for his por­trayal of par­a­lyzed the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing — an­other op­por­tu­nity to trans­form him­self and im­press movie­go­ers.

This time, work­ing un­der the guidance of an­other re­cent Os­car hon­oree (Tom Hooper, di­rec­tor of “The King’s Speech”), Red­mayne be­gins the film as 1920s Dan­ish land­scape painter Ei­nar We­gener and ends it as trans­gen­der woman Lili Elbe, one of the first peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence sex re­as­sign­ment surgery. Lili, then, is the sur­pris­ing Dan­ish girl of the ti­tle, right?

Yes and no. Red­mayne’s co-star is Swedish ac­tress Ali­cia Vikan­der (the cun­ning, cur­va­ceous robot of “Ex Machina”), cast as an­other Dan­ish girl, We­gener’s wife, por­trait painter Gerda We­gener. Con­trary to the film’s ini­tial public­ity, “The Dan­ish Girl” is per­haps more Gerda’s story than Lili’s, and Vikan­der’s less showy per­for­mance — which re­quires her to be sup­port­ive of the per­son she loves even as her mar­riage un­der­goes an al­most in­com­pre­hen­si­ble ad­just­ment — may be more wor­thy of recog­ni­tion. (When Gerda tells a male sit­ter it is un­usual for a man to “sub­mit to a woman’s gaze,” she seems as much a bud­ding film the­o­rist as a painter.)

Like “The King’s Speech,” “The Dan­ish Girl” is metic­u­lously pro­duced, and it ben­e­fits from Hooper’s un­usual fram­ing choices (the di­rec­tor places char­ac­ters in un­likely po­si­tions within com­po­si­tions some­times dis­torted with a widean­gle lens). Th­ese quirks of style gen­er­ate a cer­tain anx­i­ety, but a greater tension arises be­tween the film’s tra­di­tion-of-qual­ity ex­cel­lence — its art­fully de­signed evo­ca­tions of stylish Copen­hagen (both un­der­ground and up­per­crust), its ex­pen­sive cos­tum­ing, its proud per­for­mances, its snoozy score — and its sex-change sub­ject mat­ter, which in decades past was ex­clu­sively the prov­ince of the back­woods drive-in and

The Road Chip (PG, 86 min.) An­other “squeakuel.” Cine­planet 16, Col­lierville Towne 16, Cor­dova Cin­ema, De­soto Cin­ema 16, For­est Hill 8, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema, Ma­jes­tic, Olive Branch Cin­ema, Palace Cin­ema, Par­adiso, Stage Cin­ema, Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in. Ant-man (PG-13, 115 min.) ★★★ Marvel’s sig­na­ture gi­gan­tism is re­versed with agree­able re­sults in this of­ten funny tale of a clever bur­glar (Paul Rudd) re­cruited by an in­ven­tor (Michael Dou­glas) to be the ti­tle in­cred­i­ble shrink­ing su­per­hero. Bartlett 10. Ba­jiroa Mastani (Not rated, 156 min.) A Hindi-lan­guage his­tor­i­cal ro­mance, set dur­ing the Maratha Em­pire ur­ban grind­house. When the pre-lili Einer trem­bles at the feel of silk or “tucks” him­self to preen in a mir­ror, the movie verges on camp; it’s hard not to re­mem­ber poor Zbud­get au­teur Ed Wood, plead­ing to ca­ress his girl­friend’s an­gora sweater in the in­fa­mous “Glen or Glenda” (1953), an equally earnest yet bolder and in fact artier plea for non­tra­di­tional sex­ual lib­er­a­tion.

As Lili em­braces her true iden­tity, she is ac­cused of “per­ver­sion” and sub­jected to what now seems like bar­baric would-be reme­dies. Mean­while, Gerda

of the 18th cen­tury. Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema, Wolfchase Gal­le­ria Cin­ema 8. The Big Short (R, 130 min.) ★★ ½ Di­rec­tor Adam Mckay’s adap­ta­tion of Michael Lewis’ non­fic­tion best-seller about the eco­nomic col­lapse of 2007-2010 might be de­scribed as the most epic of all-star heist come­dies. The “out­siders and weirdos” who are its he­roes (or an­ti­heroes) aren’t plan­ning to steal a jewel from a mu­seum or money bags from a vault; in­stead, they are legally ma­nip­u­lat­ing a U.S. bank­ing sys­tem built on “fraud and stu­pid­ity” in hopes of earn­ing mil­lions and mil­lions from their recog­ni­tion of func­tions as a stand-in for the typ­i­cal art-house moviegoer: She is sym­pa­thetic to Lili’s plight but also dis­com­fited by her hus­band’s trans­for­ma­tion. But as it pro­gresses, the movie — scripted by Lucinda Coxon, work­ing from David Eber­shoff’s novel about Gerda and Lili — be­comes less an un­usual and acute “Scenes from a Mar­riage” and more a work of boos­t­er­ism, com­plete with an end-cred­its as­ser­tion that Lili’s “brav­ery and pi­o­neer­ing spirit re­main an in­spi­ra­tion.”

“The Dan­ish Girl” is ex­clu­sively at Malco Ridge­way Cin­ema Grill.

“the gi­ant lie at the heart of the econ­omy,” the doomed hous­ing and credit bub­ble. Fine and good, but Mckay’s film — el­e­vated by a cast that in­cludes Chris­tian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt — is so des­per­ate to en­ter­tain that its gim­micks (Mar­got Rob­bie ap­pears in a bub­ble bath, to ex­plain sub­prime loans) and facile dig­i­tal edit­ing (there are pop-cul­ture mon­tages aplenty) trans­form this story of dis­as­ter into some­thing breezy and fun and — worse — ab­stract (a to­ken shot of a fam­ily re­duced to liv­ing out of its car is more pa­tron­iz­ing than il­lu­mi­nat­ing). For a more worth­while Mckay

PHOTO COUR­TESY FO­CUS FEA­TURES/TNS

Ali­cia Vikan­der plays por­trait painter Gerda We­gener — one of two char­ac­ters de­scribed by the ti­tle of “The Dan­ish Girl.”

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