Fridanoodle Film Club – Part 7

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In this Film Club I take on two very different films, Oscar-nominated “The Danish Girl”, a deep and complex surrounded by an important debate, and “Romantics Anonymous” a light and cheery French romcom.

The Danish Girl

I have been longing to see this film ever since spotting the beautiful posters all around town about a year ago.  It is loosely based on the true story of Danish artists Gerda Wegner and Lili Elbe in the 1920-30s. Eddie Redmay stars as married landscape painter Einer Wegener who seemingly by chance discovers he identifies as a woman while helping pose as one for a painting his wife Gerda (played by Alicia Vikander) is working on. A friend happens upon Einer during the posing, and declares her new name to be Lili. Einer, full of curiosity over this new persona starts to discover life as Lili. The film is about the transition that envelops and also about the consequences it has on the relationship between the two spouses as Lili takes a larger part of their life.

This film definitely caused some controversy as Eddie was yet another cis-gendered actor cast to play a transwoman, closely following Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” a few years prior. I am going to try and give my views on this issue, but I want to clarify that I want to be respectful and will happily take critique on my thinking as this is not my battle but one I stand by completely.

Eddie Redmayne as Einer Wegener in The Danish Girl

A major argument raised over this type of cis-gendered casting is that there are so few roles for transgendered people, they should be considered for these roles. I really agree with this and completely understand the thinking behind it. We need to make more room for non-cis people in acting, as in other parts of life. I know there are talented transgendered actors out there who could portray the experiences this character undergoes in their sleep. They have lived through this and can connect with the character on so many more levels than a cis-gendered actor could.

The issue I have with the argument that a transgendered actor should always play the part of a transgendered charater is that part of acting is the ability to be someone you are not, taking on another’s experience. A more accurately cast actor (such as the brilliant Laverne Cox as Sophia in OITNB) allows for a more personal connection to a role, but a strong actor can take on the role of any character and portray is as emotionally and personally as someone with stronger ties to the character. Now, cis-men are not exactly in need of roles, and we need to open Hollywood up to more variety of actors and roles. This said, I am so happy this debate can take place today. I am not sure whether this was an issue raised when Hillary Swank starred as a transman in “Boys Don’t Cry” but it shows how our society is becoming more self-critical, and hopefully it will help allow more transgendered people into the acting world, and not just to play trans-related characters.

Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

Even though I know that out there is someone who could play this role and in many ways deserves this role more, I just cannot picture anyone but Eddie in the role of Einer/Lili. Having seen what he did with this part, how sensitively and beautifully he portrays this complex character’s inner world, it is impossible to think of anyone else. From interviews with Eddie he really appears to respect that he got to play this role.

Now, whether you are for or against Eddie’s right to play this role, I have to say: If there is one film from 2015 that I recommend you watch, it’s this one. It is truly breathtaking.

Romantics Anonymous

This little French film ran over the Christmas break, and with nothing much on my parents and I decided to give it a try. I am so pleased we didn’t change the channel, because it was a delightful little flick! The film is about Angélique who is a talented chocolatier who suffers from terrible nerves. She attends a weekly help group where other troubled people speak out about their various issues. Angélique applies to a job at a Chocolate factory, believing she is to make chocolate, but ending up as a sales woman. She soon learns that business is not going well, and that the peculiar boss of the factory, Jean-René appears to have a similar nervous condition to her own.
Now the plot of this movie is not difficult to figure out, it sets everything up rather nicely so you just have to follow along the subtitles. What saves this film from being too predictable or cutesy is its quirky nature and the comedic take on these two characters. It also helps if it around Christmas, and you happen to have boxes of pralines available as this film will get you in the mood for chocolate. While the above picture claims big things (there will never be anything near Amélie) it is still a really nice film. It made us all laugh, and for a romantic comedy it is actually worth sharing with the significant other without having to cringe or force them to sit through it and fake interest.
Check out previous Fridanoodle Film Club parts 1, 2, 3, 45 & 6

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