Most movies about transsexuals are campy, and that's not a terrible thing [think Priscilla, Queen of the Desert] but The Danish Girl is not in that category. It's a subtle, delicate film that is not exploitative. It's about human beings who are flawed but are capable of expanding the definition of love.
The plot involves two married artists in Denmark in the mid 1920's. The husband, Einer, an artist, wears a suit and tie even at home, while working. [As the niece of a prolific artist I can tell you that wardrobe choice is pretty unusual.] When his wife Gerda asks him to pose holding a dress so she can finish a detail on one of her paintings, he realizes that he enjoys wearing women's clothing. The film is loosely based on a true story, of the first sex-change operation.
As Einar gradually becomes more and more fascinated by dressing and acting as a woman, it obviously affects his career and marriage.
Eddie Redmayne is extraordinary, and certainly deserved the Oscar nomination. His "Lilly" is a tortured soul, trying to navigate in a world where bullies are around the corner and judgment comes from even so-called mental health professionals. Redmayne plays the role of Einar/Lilly with incredible grace. It's amazing to behold his transformation, as each character is distinctly either male or female, yet neither is stereotypical.
Until recently I was unaware of the existence of Alicia Vikander, the young Swedish actress who plays his wife Gerda. She is an extraordinary talent. Without saying a word, her eyes and face can transmit volumes of emotion and it's impossible not to watch her. I have now seen her in Testament of Youth [good film, really sad though] and The Man from UNCLE [silly, pointless film] and she can take small parts and handle them beautifully, and also carry a film.
If you're looking for a happy film, this isn't it. However, it's a beautiful film and very moving. I highly recommend it.