The Danish Girl (Blu-ray)

February 23, 2016 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When Eddie Redmayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor, it was a surprise. There’s footage of Michael Keaton nonchalantly tucking his acceptance speech into his jacket pocket right after Redmayne’s name was called. Yes, his win was an upset, but looking back – it was the right choice. Winning an Oscar can be a double-edged sword for an actor. One one hand it can lead to a wealth of roles that were out of reach prior to that little gold statue. On the other hand, it can elevate a person’s stature to the point where they don’t know what to do with themselves. Remember Roberto Benigni? Seen him in anything since…he won? Look at the career of Nicholas Cage who won for Leaving Las Vegas. Yes, it can be argued that he had a successful career in the late 90’s and 2000’s, but by looking at the work he’s doing now, you’d never know he had a Best Oscar statue in his home. Still, with The Danish Girl this gave the newly-crowned Best Actor winner a chance to spread his wings and show his range that won him accolades for The Theory of Everything.

Set in the early 1920’s, Redmanye stars as Einar Wegener. He’s a noted artist who seems happily married to Gerda (Alicia Vikander). A painter as well, she’s having a rather hard time trying to break into the competitive world of art. But life is full of surprises and when a model fails to show for a sitting, Gerda asks Einar to don a set of stockings and shoes and…something happens. It’s as if something deep inside has been unlocked. Einar wants more of this and the two create an alter ego for Einar dubbed “Miss Lili.” What seemingly starts off as a little joke starts to take on a life of its own and as the obsession grows within Einar, he wants to live more and more within it.  Eventually meeting with a doctor (Sebastian Koch), he claims that he can transform Einar into the female that he’s always wanted to be.

Reading other reviews of this film, they essentially all say the same thing. It’s a good film, but it’s overshadowed by two extremely capable and talented actors in Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. It’s the story we’ve all heard before of the performances outweighing the overall film itself. And if Alicia Vikander’s name looks familiar, it should – she had 7 starring roles in 2015. She could have just as easily been nominated for her role as Ava in Ex Machina. Redmayne once again shows why last year was no fluke as this role really gives him a chance to flex his acting chops. It takes some talent to portray Stephen Hawking in one film and a convincible woman in another. Director Tom Hooper might have had some more success in recent years with Les Miserables and The King’s Speech, but The Danish Girl likely won’t be a jewel in his crown. But that’s ok.

Video: How’s it look?

The 1.85:1 AVC HD image is simply perfection in every sense of the word. I tried, really I did, to find something wrong with it but I wasn’t able. The lush scenery coupled with the fine element of grain makes for a very interesting look to the film. Flesh tones are a bit washed out, though I feel this was done intentionally as opposed to any fault of the transfer. Looking at the faces of Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne, it really serves as a testament as to how unique this film is.  I noticed a lot of cooler hues, blues, throughout the film but nothing that detracts from the overall allure of this film. This is stunning in every sense of the word.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Things don’t have to blow up, building don’t have to collapse or superheroes don’t have to get into fights for a movie to sound good. The DTS HD Master Audio sound mix is the epitome of subtlety, but yet I found myself drawn into the film. Alexandre Desplat’s alluring score resonates through the speakers and creates an intoxicating atmosphere. Vocals are pure and crisp and surrounds really provide a great amount of depth that makes for a fascinating mix. I often don’t give out a perfect score for audio, but there was something about this one that really drew me in. Job well done.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • The Making of The Danish Girl – The lone supplement on this disc is, sadly, your standard EPK with some cast and crew interviews, clips from the film as well as some behind the scenes footage. Running just over 10 minutes it’s a nice feature to have, and a few things are learned about the film, but ultimately isn’t too fulfilling.

The Bottom Line

This movie won’t be for everyone, but both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander deliver amazing performances. I still prefer Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, but this role shows how much range he truly has. Universal’s Blu-ray both looks and sounds stunning, but the lack of any real supplements might be enough to recommend a rental as opposed to a purchase.

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