An amazing performance by Eddie Redmayne where he showcases once more the diversity of his acting talents by playing the first recorded transgender woman in modern history. His ability to completely transform into the characters that he plays from drama to fantasy, make him a remarkable artist in an environment where people tend to be typecast and forgotten.
In my view this is a true love story, of a love so great that was able to evolve with the individuals as they grew into their true selves. This is a tale of a love that transcends genders, relationship labels and it lasted a lifetime despite the constant pain and disappointment. I don’t know many stories this strong. Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander play the couple inspired by Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. The movie centers around how their marriage and work evolve as they navigate the journey of Einar Wegener’s (born in Denmark 1882-1931) transition into a woman. Einar seemed to be a very special man, sensitive, shy, and reserved. Him and Alicia even seemed happy for a while until Einar begins to experience strange cramps and changes in his libido. It is unclear in the movie, if Alicia picked up on certain subtleties about his personality and gently encouraged him to come out, or if the insistence in posing as a woman for Alicia’s paintings awoke a desire that was already there.
The movie cuts short on their struggles and journey as it shows a really quick progression from man, into confusion, exploration of his attraction to men and finally making the decision of gender reassignment. However, they were married for more than 25 years, many of which Einar and Alicia were simply roommates married to each other coping however they could with depression and financial struggles. It is hard to understand how isolated Alicia must have felt, unable to talk to anyone about what was going on due to prejudice. None the less, she stood by Lili’s side, encouraging her to find her true self and supported her until the end. How would you react if your spouse told you today that he/she feels like the opposite gender? Would you stand by their side and support them? I think many people would simply walk away.
Lili seems so confused and consumed by guilt that she could barely paint or even function as a human being. This of course put a lot more pressure on Alicia who somehow found the strength to keep it all together without abandoning her life companion. I was so moved by the unconditional love shown in this movie that it made me question the notion of romantic love that we are fed. Compared to the level of acceptance and support shown by Alicia, romantic love (as we know it) seems more of a toxic excuse to express attachment and neediness; Where the object of adoration is conditional to meeting certain requirements and delivering specific goods in the relationship.
I am curious to know how you see their relationship and what impacted you the most about this movie.