THE DANISH GIRL (15) (120 mins) Starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw and Sebastian Koch.

The Danish Girl is a fictionalised account of Lili Elbe, a pioneer of the transgender movement, who was one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery in the 1920s.

Director Tom Hooper, who collected an Academy Award for The King’s Speech, adopts a restrained and painfully polite approach to the subject matter, artfully navigating a maelstrom of conflicting emotions.

Thankfully, his British reserve doesn’t get in the way of us connecting to the characters, aided by tour-de-force performances from Eddie Redmayne as Lili and the luminous Alicia Vikander as his conflicted wife.

Their commitment to demanding roles, including a deeply moving scene of full-frontal nudity for Redmayne, elevates Lucinda Coxon’s script and guarantees a deluge of saltwater tears from audiences, who believe that love transcends all boundaries.

Einar Wegener (Redmayne) is a respected artist in 1920s Copenhagen, who falls in love at first sight with his bohemian wife Gerda (Vikander).

She is also a painter and asks Einar to stand in for an absent female model so she can complete a portrait of their flamboyant ballerina friend, Ulla (Amber Heard).

The touch of soft fabric on Einar’s skin awakens long-dormant feelings.

Supported by Gerda and childhood friend Hans Axgil (Matthias Schoenaerts), Lili approaches controversial surgeon Warnekros (Sebastian Koch) to correct nature’s mistake.

However, the medical procedure is both experimental and highly dangerous, and Gerda might not only lose her husband on the operating table, but also Lili.

The Danish Girl treads an exceedingly safe path, but it’s hard to resist the aching emotion that courses beneath each exquisite, painterly frame.