Here’s the thing about Alicia Vikander: Yes, she’s an Oscar-winner, but she’s not what I’d call a household face at this point, especially because she sat out most of last season to shoot Tomb Raider. Even that cover line feels very, “… Oh and also Alicia Vikander is here,” said in the same hurried tone as, “And none for Gretchen Wieners GOODBYE.” And the preview for the interview is so sparse that I’m wondering if the story itself is a dud, which puts more pressure on the pictures. So Elle is correct on some level to keep it simple, given that I think a lot of America and possibly beyond needs to be reacquainted with her; whatever my other issues are with this cover, white-on-white, with just the red font, helps her face stand out.

But Alicia Vikander also veers quickly into being affectless in photographs. That’s not the same thing as saying she has to smile; it’s just noting that she seems to have a hard time with what Miss Tyra Banks would call “smizing.” Connecting with the still camera doesn’t always seem to be her forte, which is fine, because she is in the moving pictures. But I remember being pleasantly surprised with how she came across during red carpet interviews the year she won her Oscar, because if you judge that book by the digital photograph on its cover, you might assume she is only ever like 35 percent charged. This cover is doing nothing to alter that perception, and indeed might be making it even worse. I think Elle could have kept it simple while also setting her up to radiate some warmth and personality — which she can do. So give her a task and let her DO it.

As it is, this barely even feels like her face. It’s not anything like what Alicia Vikander looks like in my mind’s eye, or has ever looked like. For one (minor) thing, she’s super tan about 95 percent of the time, including in February and June/July. They would’ve had to shoot this SOMEWHERE in there, but when did she have enough time to exfoliate all that off? For another I do not recall her right eye looking in a different direction than her left. This looks more like someone took Alicia Vikander and digitally combined her face with Carey Lowell. And then bumped the mouse without noticing. At this rate, someone else is going to have to step up and re-introduce us to Alicia Vikander once more in a couple months, just to get it right.

[Photo: Elle]