The new drama from director Tom Hooper is a fictionalized version, based on the true story, of Lilly Elbe, one of the first documented transgender cases in the early 1920's.
Ms. Elbe was born Einar Wegener, who in adulthood, became a successful Danish artist. The film opens with a closeup of Einar's wife Gerda, who is a struggling artist in her own right. Einar is played by Eddie Redmanye and Gerda is played by Alicia Vikander. It is clear that they are very much in love but there is a desire in Einar that rises to the surface when Gerda asks him to pose for her in women's clothes.
Mr. Redmayne, already awarded for his transformation into Stephen Hawking, is remarkable as Einar/Lilly. His performance is flawless and while appreciated, actually works against him. His acting never waivers and he ends up a one note character, overshadowed by a commanding performance by Ms. Vikander as Gerda.
The film is stolen by Ms. Vikander with a raw, emotional performance that Mr. Redmayne can't match. She carries him just as Gerda supports Einar's decision to become the woman he already feels inside him.
Mr. Hooper directs with a skilled eye, delicately balancing the sensitive material. The cinematography is outstanding and at it's core, the film is a beautiful period love story.