Hollywood cutie pie Eddie Redmayne turned 34 last Wednesday (January 6). His remarkable acting feat for this year bested his last year’s Academy Award winning performance as an old Stephen Hawking on wheelchair in Theory of Everything.
Redmayne previously starred in many serious dramas for which his subtle and deadly smile marks his touch as an actor (I remember Meryll Streep being known for her subtle pokerface). He was once Marilyn Monroe’s lover in My Week With Marilyn, a leader of the French rebellion as Marius in Les Misérable, and an English soldier during World War I in Birdsong.
In The Danish Girl, his most recent film, his true-to-life performance of Danish painter Einar Wegener who underwent sexual reassignment surgery as Lili Elbe is nominated this year for a Golden Globe Award (cross-fingers for an Oscar).
What strikes me most in his work this year is the bravery to be naked on the global screen! His performance as Lili Elbe, his later persona as transwoman, is inspirational and stunning. He would later die in the film after complications on fashioning a vagina, his second surgery. One of the major cause would be blood loss (for at that time surgical materials were so mid-1920s).
One of the most pivotal scenes before his full acceptance and transition happens in front of a mirror where he stuffs his penis in between his legs and stands like a full blown woman. What a metaphor indeed for queer cinema!
This is a feat which recalls scenes of a transgender woman also facing the mirror in Silence of the Lambs or the AIDS stricken transgender praising her beauty in Dallas Buyers Club. Even though both are narcissistically intriguing, what makes these different from Redmayne’s performance is the subtle praise and desire for the inner feminine. This is the stuff of epic drama which empowers many transgenders in the world to bravely face the act of transition and accept fully what the heart beats for.
Enjoy! – John Toledo
*Screenshots are from the film.
YouTube Trailer The Danish Girl (film)