Tom Hooper's “The Danish Girl” may the most Oscar-baity Oscar-bait ever to bait the Oscar.
Then again, it might also be good. It's certainly a captivating story, the true-life tale of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, and director Tom Hooper's got himself a hell of a cast with Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander playing the couple who found themselves grappling with a relationship that helped break new ground for people around the world who felt that they were born wearing the wrong skin.
Lili Elbe was a transgender pioneer, and I'll be curious to see if this film faces any of the same blowback that “About Ray” has been facing because they cast cisgender actor Elle Fanning to play a character who is beginning the transition from male to female. Director Gaby Dellal has defended that choice, but there are plenty in the LBGT community who feel that the casting is a problem. Redmayne's character may be transitioning in a different direction, but the point is the same… they've got a cisgender actor playing the part.
Redmayne is, of course, coming off of his Oscar win for “The Theory Of Everything,” and this is the kind of role that most actors would kill to play. For me, Alicia Vikander is the main event here. I'm curious to see how she charts the emotional journey of this woman who realizes that the only way the man she loves is going to be happy and whole is to become a woman. That can't be an easy thing, no matter how much love and support there is in a relationship, and it seems like both actors are going to be given plenty of emotional material to play.
Hooper's been in the Oscar business since “The King's Speech,” of course, and he has become one of those guys who studios go to when they want to be in the race. That's not to say that he doesn't genuinely love the stories he's telling… just that he has found a very specific brand that is entirely his, and “The Danish Girl,” adapted by Lucinda Coxon from the book by David Ebershoff, looks like it is absolutely in his wheelhouse.
The film premieres at the Venice Film Festival, screens again in Toronto, and then arrives in theaters on November 27th.