Eli Hayes’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don't think so, kind sir;
I don't think so.
I'm deeply sorry your name is even
involved in this well-meaning mess.
Ahead, you have not my words,
but Carol Grant's, in an article
that you may have already read,
and one that I utterly concur with
on every level imaginable:
"...You get this in Redmayne's performance, of course, only instead of approximating a single individual, he's approximating femininity itself, ratcheting his exaggerated, nervous physical ticks to 11 when playing both Einar and Lili. As Einar, he's doing a proto-Stephen Hawking, with shaking hands, sad eyes, a sickly complexion, and a breathy voice. As Lili, he performs womanhood by way of stereotype...
"Redmayne's work is one thing, but the way Hooper and his DP Danny Cohen shoot him adds a grosser layer to their portrayal of Lili. Like Redmayne, Hooper exaggerates and conflates feminine imagery to the point of parodizing them. His camera doesn't linger, or observe, or examine—it leers...
"When Gerda is putting make-up on Lili, Hooper splices in extreme close-ups of the lipstick rubbing against Redmayne's lips. When Einar touches a dress for the first time, we get more extreme close-ups of the fabric rubbing against Redmayne's skin accompanied by heavy breathing and operatic strings courtesy of Alexandre Desplat...
**SLIGHT SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING PASTED PARAGRAPH**
In the soon-to-be-infamous tucking scene, Hooper closes us in on Redmayne's naked body and slowly moves his camera down, treating the tucking of his penis like a gigantic reveal that he—and thus the audience—gawks at.
**SLIGHT SPOILERS OVER**
"This hyperbolizing of femininity is never given to Alicia Vikander's Gerda, or any of the other cisgender characters. It is only for Lili. Intentionally or otherwise, Hooper's intrusive camera doesn't invite empathy, but only further otherizes Lili. Compare this to the way Celine Sciamma shoots a scene of self-reflection in her 2011 film Tomboy, about a young, gender-questioning child named Mickäel who presents himself as a boy to his new friends. Sciamma allows us to examine him just as he's examining his own body in the mirror, but she never once calls attention to tiny details that isolate Mickäel's masculinity. Her patient, observant camera allows the audience to reflect on the body presented in the same way Mickäel is reflecting, and thus, empathy is created...
"As these varying stereotypes of womanhood are given immense focus, it becomes all the more glaring what Hooper decides not to closely examine. The Male Gaze is presented in one scene for less than a minute, and then never brought up again. The owner of Lili's department store mentions how the type of femininity they're selling is 'all about performance', but the film never once engages with the idea of performative femininity—taking part in it entirely, instead. The difficulties of womanhood are glossed over, making room instead for the pity of Lili's trans-ness, and her being unable to partake in the very simple, womanly pleasures as presented in the film..."
Read the entirety of the article here: