11 January 2016

It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world!

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Don't you hate it when you go to see a film about a woman who loves pastry and then suddenly it turns out to be about a guy who wants to have his dick chopped off?! The Danish Girl is set in 1920's Copenhagen when all of the locals have decided to discard their own language in a nationwide experiment to sound like posh, English RADA graduates. However despite this bizarre Twilight Zone bat-shittery, the film decides to focus on a young and slightly unconventional married couple of artists. Played by Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne, the wife of the two asks her husband to pose as a woman for one of her portraits which magically imbues him with the desire to literally transform into an actual female. With a power like that, I can't help but wonder if she's the reason that Piers Morgan seems to look like a sweaty, phone-hacking bell-end. Anyway, so what follows is the story of a man and his desire to undergo one of the worlds first gender reassignment operations. In all honesty it's probably a good job that I saw this film because I've been lobbying for a sex change operation for some time. Although rather than swapping my gender I was simply hoping that I could alter the status of my 'sex' to anything other than 'getting none'.


So on the bright-side, for a film that's about a character's desire to transform, the cast are all on top form with Redmayne clearly having the balls to play a man that hates his own. Having won an Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking, Redmayne, like that wheelchair bound character, is clearly on a roll. Particularly when it comes to people who are visually uncomfortable in their own bodies. Although in The Danish Girl, that discomfort is due to his character having been born as the wrong gender and not because he's forced to sit in a position that suggests his spine is forcing its way out of his anus. However there are some similarities, with the focus of the film being on the physicality of the characters movement and the mental anguish over their own body's restrictions. In one scene, you even get to see Redmayne's red bush as he does the kind of pull-and-tuck that most of us have only considered in a post-Silence Of The Lambs curiosity. Emotionally he obviously hits all the notes that you'd expect, with his male persona being believably timid, vulnerable, regretful, and sympathetic. I mean, I know that I for one can certainly relate to his upset over the failing pursuit of finding a fully working vagina.

The problem for me I suppose is that it never actually deviates from these downbeat emotions and so you never really get to see him at ease within himself. Take Larry Wachowski for example, who rose to fame when co-directing The Matrix alongside his brother Andy. Larry looked like a fucking anxiety ridden nerd with massive glasses, crap hair, and the kind of fashion sense that you'd expect from somebody who'd rather shit their pants than stop playing World of Warcraft. A few years ago however something unusual happened to Larry in that he stopped being a geeky dweeb and became Lana, one of the coolest-looking women that I've ever seen. She's got bright pink hair, a really great sense of fashion, and seems to have the biggest smile in every single picture that's been taken of her. I'd say that Larry seemed like the kind of guy who'd rather lop his own knob off than talk to you but evidently that may well have been true. Lana however seems completely at home and relaxed within herself, which is a state that Redmaynes character never seems to achieve. He's not comfortable as a man and nor does he really ever seem completely at home as a woman. The only difference is that one wears a frown and the other wears a frown and frock.

I understand that he's constantly at risk of being locked up for madness or having the shit kicked out of him, which probably puts a bit of a downer on things and so maybe I'm being unfair. I'm also aware that this story has some basis in fact, with the actual diaries that the character wrote being loose inspirations for the film's final script, however for me The Danish Girl is clearly a two hander with the title being as much a reference to Vikanda as it is to Redmayne. In fact, because I'm clearly such a left-leaning liberal who's partly writing this to wank off to my own open-mindedness, it didn't even occur to me beforehand that the title could refer to anyone other than Redmayne's character. However I have to say that it was actually Vikanda who impressed me more, having already seen her as the complicated cyborg in Ex Machina and the token let's-prove-the-men-aren't-gay love interest in The Man From U.N.C.LE. Her character stands by her husband and his need to become female despite the obvious anguish that she'll lose him in the process. As a result, she spends the whole film attempting to put on a brave face whilst trying to balance her own life with the needs of her husband and the frustration his situation is causing. I don't think there are many woman out there who'd react so supportively to the removal of their partners genitals, with the possible exception of Lorena Bobbitt before she went for that drive.

It should be mentioned too that director Tom Hooper has continued his run of making some of the classiest films to hit our big screens in a long time. Having made me tolerate both our Royal dictatorship in The Kings Speech and the French in Les Miserables, he's clearly a man of skill. Like his previous work, The Danish Girl looks absolutely stunning with its framing and colour palette, resulting in any still of this movie being worthy of being hung as art on a wall. Although having said that, the only 'art' that I have on my own wall is of the back of both Spider-man and The Hulk as they're pissing away and their arse-crack peeks out. It's just a shame that in his successful attempt to make another classy film, I suppose this one feels perhaps a little too restrained at times. I understand that this doesn't feature two Jeremy Ironses with their special tools, and David Cronenberg's lack of shit in regards to what he'll make them do with them. However the operation that Redmayne's character endures happens completely off-screen, with the agony and process being almost un-dealt with. Perhaps if we'd seen at least a snippet of that, we'd understand how strong his need to become a woman actually was and be able to revel in the post-op emotions. Although if I'm being honest, the desire to see the neutering of its main characters is a criticism that I said about Hooper's previous two films as well.

Over-all though, I'd say this film was definitely worth a watch and unlike Redmayne's character's relationship with his cock, I'd happily see it again. It's probably the weakest of the director's filmography which I only really say as a complement to his other work. There's also no denying that it bodes well for society that right now in the cinema we have a film about transgender issues, Joy with its female lead, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens which focuses on a black guy, a woman, and an old man. It's as though humanity is slowly learning that below the surface we're all basically the same and that the audience paying to go to the cinema might be able to enjoy stories about people who aren't simply straight white men. Sorry.. I couldn't think of a way to make that point funny so just be aware that I only included it as I'm still wanking off over my own liberal open-mindness. God, I'm such a brilliant person. It must also be good for the transgender community to have a character that they can relate to who hasn't achieved their position by throwing some fat women down a well and shoving a moth down their throats. So you know.. thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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