So much beauty, it cannot but be tragic!
If you could be made to feel a 'frisson', it would be here. If you could be made to marvel at a man's beautiful hands and the transfer that feeling of wonderment to the unconditional love given generously by his wife, then it would be here. This is a movie so beautiful, so tragic, it will stay with you long after you have left the theater.
Do not make plans for dinner after watching the movie. Go to a wood paneled smoking room and drown in the finest whiskeys or run away to a garden and be ensnared by heavy scent of old roses and lillies and more roses.
This movie is like having impossibly beautiful girls from an Art Nouveau painting come alive, except that you know it is Eddie Redmayne transforming himself into this coy, shy woman with beautiful hands and a neck you want to wring several times through the movie.
At first you watch him fascinated at how he transforms into a girl, posing for his painter wife because the model is late. Then you begin to feel like he does - the touch of the silk stockings is just as smooth and cool to your hands as it is to him. I could not breathe because I knew what he was thinking. And the power of this movie lies exactly here. You begin to understand his fascination. And you know the dialog is not trite when she suggests he might like to wear her night dress and he says, 'I might.'
That Lili has been struggling to make her presence real and Einar's initial confusion with his identity is very very endearing. Whilst Hollywood audiences love the way Einar observes women in the market and at social gatherings, Indian audiences, especially Marathi audience will remember the same transformation in Atul Kulkarni in the movie Natrang. Natrang was far more tragic to watch because he is a macho farming man who transforms himself physically to play the roles of an effiminate comic characters because he loves tamasha (theatre) so much.
What starts out as a lark - a prank almost - that the only 'married' arty couple play on the soiree crowd full of single, outrageous arty types, becomes a reality. Gerda and Einar are happily married and then Einar transforms into a gender bending Lili. Only Gerda understands why Lili needs to live.
Gerda begins to paint Lili and her paintings make Gerda famous. But the more Lili lives, the more Gerda has to sacrifice...
The movie is an dramatisation of the real Lili Elbe's life. And Eddie Redmayne transforms into Lili so effortlessly, you cannot take your eyes away from him for the fear that you might miss a gesture or posture and absorb less of the beauty on the screen.
And you are so drunk on the beauty, that the director takes you with the flow and you suddenly begin to hate Lili's coy, smiles and begin to see all that selfishness...
One part of your heart still is reeking with empathy when Lili asks Gerda to hold his hand through the surgeries knowing Gerda is hankering after her Einar. Do you forgive Lili for putting her needs and desires ahead of Gerda's? Do you admire Lili's bravery? For being so different when the whole world wanted her to conform?
Alicia Vikander was the hero of the story as I saw it.
But Eddy Redmayne's delish neck and his beautiful hands do make a strong case for Lili.
p.s. just google pictures of the real Lili Elbe. tell me Eddie Redmayne is better looking...