Saturday, 2 January 2016

REVIEW - THE DANISH GIRL (TOM HOOPER)


Hollywood's most definitive social statement of 2015 is only that: a statement. The Danish Girl normalises not to encourage respect and acceptance, but as a shorthand approach to filmmaking and as a condescending approach to sanctification. It gives us a by-the-numbers portrait of an extraordinary figure in history, and displays a deeply reductive opinion of what made her extraordinary by perpetuating those outmoded notions surrounding gender and sexuality that still mar the progression of the transgender movement today. It's a movie for conservative 2015 that somehow presents 1926 as a more liberal era, if only in its ignorance toward the complexity of the process of self-identification for trans people. If Lili Elbe's interpretation of femaleness understandably amounted to no more than an exaggerated representation of conventional femininity, The Danish Girl needn't indulge in a similar interpretation, effectively condoning the same societal strictures that cause a great deal more harm to trans people today than the occasional bloody cheek. Aside from its benevolent transphobia and sexism, The Danish Girl is also a dubious piece of filmmaking. One marvels at the glorious production and costume designs, at least until realising the extent to which they overpower all else about the film, but questions most every other element of its construction - Tom Hooper directs with brutish indifference and reliance on hideous shot compositions, and Lucinda Coxon's screenplay is bizarrely insensitive. These two follow Biopic Blueprint #101, a most curious and irresponsible strategy when dealing with such a remarkable story.