The Danish Girl
By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Great performance in fact-based transgender story.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Explores the emotional and spiritual pain of feeling trapped, as well as the social problems that come with being misunderstood (and seen as a "freak"). Offers empathy and support for people who want to express who they are inside.
Positive Role Models
Lili isn't perfect, but she could be an inspiration to LGBTQ viewers who are looking to understand their feelings and find a connection to the world around them. Gerda does her best to support and accept Lili for who she is.
Violence & Scariness
Two bullies beat Lili up. Bloody face. A bloody nose. Arguing. Brief fish gutting.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Male character's naked bottom shown -- also full-frontal view (in front of a mirror), with tucked-in penis. Naked female breasts and bottom. A man watches a woman stripping and caressing herself in a "peep show" booth. A transgender woman and a man kiss; he grabs her crotch. A married couple has sex in bed and is comfortable with each other undressing. A book includes an explicit drawing of a penis. Sexy nightgown.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigarette and cigar smoking. Drinking champagne in a social setting. Main character takes prescription pills.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Danish Girl is based on the true story of the first transgender person to attempt a sex-change operation (played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne), and it could prove inspiring to transgender/LGTBQ viewers and those connected to or concerned about them. The sexual content and discussions about transgenderism are handled thoughtfully and carefully, but you can expect scenes of graphic male and female nudity (including full-frontal images) and sex. Bullies beat up the main character (some blood shown), and there are some intense discussions. Language isn't really an issue, but because the story is set in the 1920s, characters smoke cigarettes frequently. There's also cigar smoking, social drinking (champagne), and some prescription pill use.
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The Danish Girl
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What's the Story?
In early 1920s Copenhagen, Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), are happily living and working as artists. When a model doesn't show up one day, Gerda asks Einar to pose while wearing a dress. Einar finds the experience profoundly changing and decides he wants to go to a party dressed as a woman; Gerda cheerfully agrees. After a tentative kiss from a partygoer (Ben Whishaw), it becomes clear that this is more than just dress-up for Einar. He realizes that he already considers himself a woman, whom he calls Lili, and is trapped in the wrong body. Einar begins living as Lili, and when she learns of a surgeon (Sebastian Koch) who has developed an experimental procedure to change a person's sex, Lili knows she has no choice but to try.
Is It Any Good?
Best director Oscar-winner Tom Hooper has delivered another ready-made movie for awards season -- polite, highly polished, and perhaps a bit safe, but with another great performance by Redmayne. The star (who won the Academy Award for The Theory of Everything) achieves another complete transformation here, subtly changing from awkward to comfortable in his female identity. The Gerda role is less strong; she only gets to react to Einar/Lili, and Vikander can't fully bring her to life.
THE DANISH GIRL is somewhat disappointingly handled with kid gloves; it's soft, falling back on montages and skipping over emotional uncertainties. But Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Miserables) and cinematographer Danny Cohen mirror the main characters' artistic creations with strikingly beautiful landscapes, and Hooper adds drama with his trademark use of characters placed in odd corners of the frame. Ultimately, it has some interesting things to say about sexual identity, and it's a good stepping stone.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how The Danish Girl handles the subject of sexuality. How much is shown and not shown? How does the tone of the nude scenes vary? Are some more "sexual" than others? Why do you think that is?
Talk about being transgender and what kinds of issues someone might face upon feeling as though they were born into the wrong physical body. Do you think the movie explains the situation well?
What do you think made the bully characters so angry about Lili's presence? Why do people often react violently to things they fear or don't understand?
- In theaters: November 27, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: March 1, 2016
- Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts
- Director: Tom Hooper
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some sexuality and full nudity
- Award: Academy Award
- Last updated: May 25, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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