A portrayal of a transgender life in the late 1920s and early 1930s is inevitably going to be wrought with emotional and physical tensions, tensions which Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander display with grit and purposefulness. With their intense love and physical attraction comes a deep friendship which sees Gerda (Vikander) persuade Einar (Redmayne) to model for a beautiful painting of ballet dancer Ulla, their friend played by Amber Heard (Pineapple Express, 2008; Paranoia, 2013), who can’t make it to the sitting. Delicate filming ensues; Redmayne draws silk stocking over his legs, caressing them with whimsical fascination, and clumsily wriggles his feet into a pair of ivory slippers, Gerda giggling in the background. At this point, it seems to be a game, a necessity called for by the nature of Gerda’s job that sees the gradual development of Lili into a very real, dramatic presence.
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This is intended to be more than just a review of “Inside Llewyn Davis”. The extent to which the New York 1960s folk music scene figures in and really defines this film made it seem natural to expand any discussion of its merits into a consideration of its source material. So, to get the basics out of the way first, it’s a great film. Do go to see it, particularly if you like the Coen Brothers and the music of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie et al.
Someone wise once told me that there is no point wasting your time watching awful films, when there are so many good ones to see. This is hard to argue with. Why watch High School Musical 3 when there are a plethora of Hitchcock classics that you’ve yet to even delve into?