Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Best Actor 2015: Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl.

The Danish Girl is a downright terrible film due to many reasons really, but in part because of a seemingly very thin understanding of its subject matter. 

Eddie Redmayne having won the Oscar for portraying Stephen Hawking as a person going through difficult physical changes, once again does this in The Danish Girl though this time the most extreme physical changes are purposefully chosen by his character. Of course, like The Theory of Everything, everything starts out in an average enough fashion as Redmayne plays Einar Wegener as a painter who is happily married to his wife, also a painter, Gerda (Alicia Vikander). There is nothing notable about Einar in Redmayne's hands. He basically keeps to a coy smile or two and that pseudo Hugh Grant style of speaking in slight jumbled way while blinking quite a lot. The most notable thing about him is his relationship with his wife, which is not really atypical they just evidently love each other, and I'll grant that Redmayne and Vikander have enough chemistry to make that believable. Redmayne though almost seems to strive to have nothing of note about him as he mostly keeps to some particularly blank reactionary glances in his scenes with Vikander, and to her credit she seems to be striving to create some sort of dynamic in their relationship. For most of his early scenes Redmayne is content with keeping Einar a man without substance. He has no motivations, very few emotions, no history, he might as well be a lump of clay ready to be molded by the story I suppose.

Now there are a few indications suggesting that there's something up with Einar, and those are the scenes where he is looking at women's clothing, or there's the first time where he wears a dress. Redmayne is a bit atrocious in these scenes. In the moments where he is glaring at the clothes he gives this psychotic intensity as though he's planning on murdering them later, and then when he puts on the clothes he acts as though he's suddenly been entranced by a spell. Redmayne's performance, as well as the film, both seem to suggest that Einar's personal joruney is all started just because of a fascination with women's wear, since Redmayne offers no other indications anywhere else. If there's some dresses around there's something up with Einar, when there's not he's perfectly content to be well just kind of a boring. Redmayne by making these moments so detached and separate actually seems to imply as though Lili is not who Einar truly is, but rather that Einar suffers from Dissociative identity disorder with Lili being a different personality entirely. To be fair the film itself treats it such. When there is a possibility of some sort of connection to be made, Redmayne wastes it though by instead instantly becoming a teary eyed troubled soul, which he portrays in a most overwrought fashion.

After one extremely poorly thought out sequence of looking in the mirror, with music that sounds like its out of a horror thriller, Lili has taken control. I hate to describe it as such, but that's the way the film decides to approach the matter. Redmayne plays it as though he's being taken over with just a side effect of a sudden illness, which Redmayne plays up for all its worth, and it comes off just absurd. Eventually the film becomes tired of the looks of longing and the same pained expressions allowing Redmayne to purely be Lili. Now maybe that's where this thing could have gotten interesting I suppose, even if Redmayne leading up to it was rather ineffective. The problem is though Redmayne is also quite awful in his depiction of Lili. He decides to portray Lili specifically as some sort of delicate flower in human form. Redmayne goes all the way with this, with his constantly slightly tilted head, his frequent fluttering of his eyes as though he's actually doing a parody of what a woman acts like. Redmanye sort of attempts to make his voice pitched higher in some scenes but he's extremely inconsistency in this attempt that it is more distracting than anything else. Of course this is all surface, important to be sure, but perhaps there's something more when Redmayne looks deeper into the character.

Well there's a bit of problem because Lili has no character. This was a similair issue I had with his character in The Theory of Everything but compared to this, that film featured a complex portrait of Stephen Hawking. There is nothing to Lili which the film itself seems to admit with the line "I want to be woman not a painter", so guess that just means all there is to Lili is womanhood in the broadest of broad senses. That in itself is a bit of a problem due to Redmayne basically already going about making a stereotype of a woman with every over the top mannerism he gives to Lili. The more one sees of Lili the more ridiculous Redmayne's act becomes as every little twitch and slight smile are so poorly conceived. The idea of Lili just being this artificial delicate flower becomes all the more prominent at the end of the film when one of Lili's operations goes wrong. Redmayne can't even die in a way that seems natural. With every one of his coughs and damaged expressions he seems to specifically want to present Lili's death as though Lili was this pure thing just too good for this world. Lili does not die in any real pain, Redmayne makes this that special sort of pain that one usually only sees when Bugs Bunny is pretending to die. The scene is suppose to be heartbreaking but it ended up being laughable because of Redmayne's ludicrous approach. Almost everything about this depiction was poorly thought out. The whole notion of the split personality is already a very questionable simplification, but hey it does give Redmayne a chance to give two bad performances. One as Einar, a bland man who is content in his blandness, the other being Lili, a caricature of a woman content with being such.

61 comments:

Calvin Law said...

Oh dear, haha. Guess it's just me now :)

Spotlight ratings:
Ruffalo: 3.5 (yes, 3.5)
Keaton: 4.5
McAdams: 4.5
Schrieber: 4
Slattery: 4
Tucci: 4
D'Arcy James: 4
Crudup: 3.5
Jenkins: 3.5
Guilfoyle: 4
Cariou: 4

Robert MacFarlane said...

I don't think they intended it to come off as split personality, but then again I don't think they knew anything about transgenderism. Or even human behavior for that matter. Certainly not headwear since they gave Ben Whishaw that hideous beret.

Calvin Law said...

I think Whishaw could've pulled the role of Lili/Einar better personally, though I do stand by Redmayne.

But yeah. Beret.

Michael McCarthy said...

Huh, I feel like this review suggests a lower score than you actually gave him.

In any case now I feel like DiCaprio's gonna be reviewed last, which is kind of a shame since he and Fassbender were the two I was most anxious to see if I was gonna be validated on.

Calvin Law said...

Also might swallow my pride regarding Damon:

1. DiCaprio
2. Damon
3. Cranston
4. Fassbender
5. Redmayne

Robert MacFarlane said...

Calvin: I kept thinking throughout the entire movie Whishaw would have worked so much better, and he's RIGHT THERE.

Luke Higham said...

1. DiCaprio
2. Damon
3. Fassbender
4. Cranston
5. Redmayne

Matt Mustin said...

What about this performance bumps it up to a 2? Cause it sounds like you dislike literally everything about it.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Well I can agree that Whishaw probably would have been a lot better.

Matt:

Well I mentioned his chemistry with Vikander, and uhhhhhhhummmmmmmmmmmmmm, I might be being a bit generous.

RatedRStar said...

OH DEAR OH DEAR lol haha =D.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Best Supporting Actor is the same pretty much

Best Actress
1. Rooney Mara - Carol
2. Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn
3. Charlize Theron - Mad Max
4. Brie Larson - Room
5. Daisy Ridley - Star Wars
6. Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years
7. Cate Blanchett - Carol
8. Emily Blunt - Sicario
9. Carey Mulligan - Suffragette
10. Juliette Binoche - Clouds Of Sils Maria

Best Supporting Actress
1. Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
2. Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs
3. Alicia Vikander - Ex Machina
4. Kristen Stewart - Clouds Of Sils Maria
5. Rose Byrne - Spy
6. Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
7. Julie Walters - Brooklyn
8. Phylis Smith - Inside Out
9. Joan Allen - Room
10. Elizabeth Banks - Love & Mercy

Best Actor
1. Tom Courtenay - 45 Years
2. Tom Hardy - Legend
3. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
4. Jason Bateman - The Gift
5. Michael Fassbender - Macbeth
6. Tom Hardy - Mad Max
7. Matt Damon - The Martian
8. Ben Foster - The Program
9. Michael B Jordan - Creed
I can only think of 9 if im honest off the top of my head lol someone will correct me of course and I will go shit how did I forget about that person

RatedRStar said...

Been a while since we have seen a 1.5 =D lol haha, I do love seeing reviews like this I must admit it.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Damn, first 1.5 since Pitt in Benjamin Button. Can you lower Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones while you're at it?

RatedRStar said...

Thank you for this cause I have been laughing for quite some time Louis =D BUGS BUNNY!!!!!.

Here is my proper winning request

Roger Livesey - I Know Where I'm Going (he is amazingly charming I cannot allow you to miss this Louis)

Calvin Law said...

Louis: Thoughts/ratings on Riley Keough in Mad Max: Fury Road?

Michael Patison said...

The more I reflect on Spotlight, the more I find Brian d'Arcy James to be the MVP. That's probably just me, but I thought he was just as good as everybody else and then knocked his "greeting the neighbors" scene out of the park.

Michael Patison said...

Luke: I'd love the link.

Robert MacFarlane said...

One thing that really bothered me about Spotlight is how Ruffalo's speech should have belonged to James. Not only did it come out of nowhere for Ruffalo's character, having James say it would have made perfect sense. His character is the one with the highest stakes, since his family lives down the block from those priests. He should be the angriest and most anxious to break the story.

Psifonian said...

I'm glad you commented on the "horror movie" music in that mirror scene. I half-expected "Goodbye, Horses" to start playing. It really feels like Tom Hooper and Lucinda Coxon watched "Glen and Glenda" and "Silence of the Lambs" and went, "Yeah, I think we know everything there is to know about trans people."

The film is so offensive in its inoffensiveness, and I feel I have to ask: what makes a performance like this "brave"? Because, frankly, this felt like such a safe way to portray such a character (inasmuch as there was a character for Redmayne to play). The term "brave" gets tossed around so often, and yet I found utterly nothing brave about it. Redmayne takes no risks with the part. I had the same complaint last year. Redmayne tackling both Hawking and Elbe are actually safe choices. Yes, there are risks inherent in playing a famous figure like Hawking, especially one who has a very clear disability. But the roles themselves are is nothing but lionization. There's nothing really to risk in playing Hawking or Elbe as simply martyrs; I want to know who they were as people. Hawking may be a great icon of science, but he also cheated on his wife. Yet the film fears to indict him for that, simply because it's afraid to knock Hawking from the pedestal, but in doing so it robs the film and Redmayne's performance of any sort of humanity. I don't give a shit about these characters' places in history. I care about who they were. Redmayne's Hawking was nothing but a withering prop, and Jones had to do the heavy lifting while struggling against a godawful script. It's even more evident here because Elbe is a complete non-entity in her story because at no point does her identity ever truly matter, because Hooper/Coxon seem to be under the impression that such a transition is purely external. Redmayne may look the part, but he's an incredibly shallow performer.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I stand by my analogy of Redmayne coming off like a Julliard graduate who payed attention to only half the classes. Technically has talent, but does little to refine it. Works the craft without totally understanding it.

Michael McCarthy said...

I'd've loved to see Brian d'Arcy James give that monologue. Although maybe at least his performance in Spotlight will get him more work. He was the male lead in my all-time favorite musical, Next to Normal, before it went to Broadway, so I've been a fan of his for a while.

Robert MacFarlane said...

He needs to play Joaquin Phoenix's brother in something. (No, not THAT brother.)

Anonymous said...

Is Vikander still a 4, Louis? If not, anything that made her rating go down?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I personally found Vikander's Carey Mulligan impression just okay.

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

How much obnoxious furniture is in this movie? It seems like it would have some.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Not quite as much as Hooper's others, but it's still there.

Michael Patison said...

Robert: Or the lack of furniture in some. "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables?" "Motherfucking Empty Room" is more like it.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I was thinking more the setup of Logue's office in The King's Speech.

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

Robert: Definitely obnoxious.

Michael Patison said...

Oh I wasn't disagreeing, I was simply adding another furniture related thing he screwed up.

Maciej said...

1.DiCaprio
2.Damon
3.Fassbender
4.Cranston
5.Redmayne

L Rime said...

I actually think Damon will take this one.

Calvin Law said...

L Rime: I sure hope so too, even ay the cost of losing my predictions. I recall you being one of the few on this blog who loved this film even more than me :)

moviefilm said...

You're so quick I even missed the predictions. If that counts, I'm gonna do mine now:
1) Leonardo DiCaprio
2) Matt Damon
3) Michael Fassbender
4) Bryan Cranston
5) Eddie Redmayne

L Rime said...

Calvin:

Yea, The Martian is fantastic. Even with a few of the changes from the novel, I still ended up loving it just as much, if not more so.

Calvin Law said...

L Rime: Who was your favourite of the supporting cast? It was Chastain and Ejiofor the first time round, but upon the 7th rewatch (that's right, 7th) I think it's a three-way tie between Daniels, Bean and (no one agrees with me) Donald Glover.

Calvin Law said...

Anyway it's really stayed with me throughout awards season and is either my 4th or 3rd favourite of the year, and Damon has impressively stayed #2 all this time.

My friends who've read the novel say that some characters like Mindy Park get a bit more to do in the novel, but that pretty much everyone got the characteristions in themselves spot on.

Luke Higham said...

Michael Patison: I'm not sure if this will work, though if it doesn't, ask for a year and I'll find it for you. :)
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LgglcEUMz1RwyMyQNfl5siKruo_W8uwiSyYdc38IlrY/edit

Luke Higham said...

Michael Patison: What's your email address, because I might be able to share it with you.

L Rime said...

Calvin:

My favorites of the supporting cast are Ejiofer, Chastain, and Glover(I'm with you on him). But overall I think everyone did a fine job and nobody stands out so far above the others.

Mindy Park was my favorite character in the novel aside from Watney. She certainly doesn't get as much to do in the movie which is a bit of a shame, but you can't fit all the material into a two hour movie. So I understand why.

Anonymous said...

Damn, you really hated him.

Alex Marqués said...

This seems to be a nomination that was ensured before the movie was released, in fact I'm sure the people who voted him hadn't even seen the movie. It just looks SO Oscar-baity (and judging by the critics, not a good one)

Gus B. said...

RatedRStar, what is your rating on Cotillard in Macbeth, since she's not even in your top 10 supporting actress?

About the review: couldn't agree more. He should be a razzie nominee for this movie as well.

Louis: what's your rating and thoughts on Vikander in this movie?

Luke Higham said...

Gus B.: Louis' initial thoughts and by the look of things, she's gone down to a 3.5.

Vikander - (She is lead, though the fraud is not as severe as some, though still fraud. Vikander reminded me of Felicity Jones's performance in Theory of Everything in once again she does not have that much of a role but she manages to be engaging within the limits of being the supportive yet distressed wife. She actually brings some much needed emotional substance to her role, and I only wish the film had allowed her to explore a more complex character as well as a more substantial relationship to work with. It is all kept to simple, but to Vikander's credit she does manage to bring out a bit of poignancy from the story despite how constricted it all feels)

RatedRStar said...

Gus B: Shit I forgot about her lol probably best I don't rank this years work for now cause it ll keep changing.

Deiner said...

Ouch! I've only seen this film once, and I liked Redmayne even though I didn't love his performance. But your review makes me want to watch The Danish Girl again. By the way Louis, have you seen Jupiter Ascending? He was godawful in that one.

Luke Higham said...

Deiner: He has seen it.

Redmayne - 0(Eh where does one even begin with this performance. It's not good obviously, but its not bad in that special brand of Tommy Wiseau style bad that's so fascinating in its badness. Its odd because Redmayne seems to be genuinely taking his performance so seriously there's no sense of fun with it, yet its not even fun because he's taking it so seriously either. It an anomaly of badness since its not as though he's bland bad either, he's just wrong, very wrong. As a villain he certainly does not have any menace. Then there is his bizarre prancing, and whatever it is he is doing with his lips. One can't forget his old man voice he does for some reason, I guess because his character is old but his siblings don't bother so he probably should not have either. Then his whole attempt to portray his character's relationship with his mother breaks down to him giving a confused constipated look while he breaths in fashion as though he forgot to bring his inhaler to set. What is this? Again what is this? Well whatever it is it'll certainly be deserving of that Razzie, if they have the slightest bit of sense to award him. I'll admit I usually have fun writing about extremely bad performances, but this one transcends that to the point I don't even enjoy describing it.)

Deiner said...

Thank you Luke! "Well whatever it is it'll certainly be deserving of that Razzie". Amen!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Redmayne will surely be deserving of the Razzie this year.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your ratings and thoughts on Humphrey Bogart in The Barefoot Contessa?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm still sticking to my opinion that Redmayne was at least awesomely awful in Jupiter Ascending.

Calvin Law said...

What's everyone's thoughts on Jackie Brown as a film? Just finished rewatching it and am thinking, wow, haven't seen it in awhile but it's grown on me a great deal. There's some great, delicate and subtle acting in it and the screenplay is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Calvin: I'd say it's one of my favorite Tarantino films.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Seen anything new lately.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: It's my fifth favourite of his.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert: I probably could in regards to Tucci.

RatedRStar:

I'm glad you enjoyed that

Calvin:

Keough - 3.5(She was a good in that she brought this certain spunky quality about her in the action scenes that worked, and effectively alluded to who she was even outside the main crux of the story. Plus though she manages some very swift chemistry with Hoult, and its pretty amazing that they give an emotional weight to despite how little time is devoted to it)

Jackie Brown is really good by the way.

Luke:

Truth

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on the film and ratings & thoughts on the cast.

omar! said...

Jackie Brown is an underrated movie, I love it and I'd rank it as one of Quentin's best.
Pam Grier gave one of the best performances of the year and she should have been nominated.
Grier 5
Jackson 4,5
Forster 4,5
Deniro 4
Fonda 4
Keaton 3,5

Louis Morgan said...

The film I thought worked for about the first hour as just purely the procedural, the problem is once the truth comes out in the story it all falls apart. The film gets on a very undeserved high horse in regards to its central character as it never accepts responsibility while trying to become high and mighty at the same time which is a most questionable combination. It is almost odd in the way it seems like one character is raving like mad, then gives some inspirational music as though we were meant to root for the character. Now a bit of truth stretching or altogether ripping can make a good film, JFK, but a film called Truth should really strive for accuracy, which this one does not.

Blanchett - 4(I actually feel as though her performance was almost trying to make up for the film's own short comings as she presents her character quite often as more than a little imbalanced in her actions, as well as in her big inspirational moments plays them more like ravings. Now I suppose this might seem odd as some the dialogue and music choices suggest this is the wrong approach, but I rather appreciate her apparent attempt to make things a bit more complex than the film desires them to be)

Redford - 3(He does not go about trying to actually play Dan Rather, instead just goes about giving the performance as a dignified news anchor. Redford does this well though I would not say there is anything too notable about his work)

Grace - 1.5(He mostly overacts his character's "colorful" moments that I suppose are trying to give him character. Then he's given a moment very similair to Mark Ruffalo's scene in Spotlight even with another character basically saying the same thing Michael Keaton's does in that film. Grace's though comes off as even more whiny than Ruffalo's and feels even less earned which is really saying something)

Keach - 3(Keach nicely creates the sense of a duplicity within seeming just like a harmless old man. He subtly indicates that there's something questionable about the man the whole time, while still seeming as though one should be able to accept his word)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Who would be your cast and director for
Jackie Brown (1950's version)
The Drop (1960's version)
The Public Enemy (1970's version)
Angels With Dirty Faces (1980's version)

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Jackie Brown 1950's directed by John Huston

Jackie Brown: Lena Horne
Ordell: Scatman Crothers
Max Cherry: Humphrey Bogart
Melanie Ralston: Marilyn Monroe
Ray Nicolette: Karl Malden
Louis Gara: John Carradine

The Drop (1960's directed by Sidney Lumet)

Bob: Rod Steiger
Nadia: Maria Schell
Marv: James Cagney
Deeds: Vic Morrow

The Public Enemy 1970's directed by Martin Scorsese

Tom Powers: Harvey Keitel
Gwen Allen: Faye Dunaway
Matt Doyle: Robert De Niro

Angels With Dirty Faces 1980's directed by Spike Lee

Rocky: Samuel L. Jackson
Father Connolly: Morgan Freeman
Laury: Alfre Woodard
Frazier: Powers Boothe
Mac: Dabney Coleman