The trans community has had a wide range of attitudes about the movie, some very negative. I knew there were some negative aspects, but decided that I wanted to see it if only for the historical value.
Let me say first that I cannot recommend this movie for anyone that is concerned about PTSD related triggers. I think it is probably pretty authentic historically but it protrays a time that was MUCH more difficult and dangerous for trans people. In actuality, it wouldn't surprise me if the portrayals may even be modest compared to historic reality, but some scenes are intense.
That aside, there are I suppose two levels of criticism I have for the movie:
One is that we could certainly wish that a trans actor could be cast in the lead role in a movie about a trans person. To do otherwise is not so different than when white actors would put black paint on their face to play black people. There is a trans actor in the movie playing one of the nurses, which makes that feel all the more like a token trans person.
My other concern is that it seems about time that we could wish for some more heroic and uplifting stories of trans people. Not that tragic stories are not quite real and all too common, but I think at some point art also needs to celebrate our progress and offer hope. (personally, I am dying for a good movie to tell Lynn Conway's story. I once promoted it personally to a family friend very senior at HBO and now Starz, but he wasn't at all supportive of me or the movie idea).
All of that aside, I love movies, and I particularly enjoy period pieces like this, and I thought this movie was very well done. I'd actually like to see it again (Thursday may be the last day in local theaters if I remember correctly from Fandango). I saw it last Sunday Dec 27th, at 9:35pm, at the Sherwood Regal theater, and I was literally the only person in the audience (which at least gave me full license to emote freely - lol).
The visuals are beautiful, and the emotions are raw, authentic, and moving. For a cis actor, I thought Lilli is played with some genuine sensitivity and insight. And her wife Gerda displays much of the heartache and struggle we have seen in loving spouses going through transition with their partner. Through a long series of doctors, all but one is horribly abusive and some of the experiences Lilli went through were horrific. I enjoyed Lilli and Gerda being artists, as the movie could use their artistic visuals to help the audience feel some of what the artists were experiencing, expressed in their art. Their love scenes were sweet and touching.
On a technical level I thought it was curious that -- at least as the movie tells the story -- Lilli's surgery was broken into two stages, not in itself uncommon still today, except one surgery was described as being to remove the male genitals, and the other surgery a few months later to create a vagina (from what, was not clear); a seemingly awful approach given what we know today. No one had ever had the second half of the surgery, the doctor's first patient never came back for the second half, and Lilli died while still in the hospital recovering from the second surgery. The scenes of Gerda letting go of her life partner and muse were heart rending.
With the aforementioned cautions and caveats, I have to recommend the movie. I may go see it again if I can.
Hugs and Cheers!