Redmayne, Vikander star in period drama
“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
Alicia Vikander plays portrait painter Gerda Wegener — one of two characters described by the title of “The Danish Girl.”