Movie Review: Academy Award Winning 'A Fantastic Woman'

A Fantastic Woman
RELEASE DATE: March 2, 2018 (Houston)
CAST: Daniela Vega, Francicso Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Kuppenheim
DIRECTED BY: Sebastián Lelio
SCREENPLAY BY: Sebastián Lelio
PRODUCED BY: Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Sebastián Lelio, Gonzalo Maza
RUN TIME: 104 Minutes
Marina and Orlando are in love and planning for the future. Marina is a young waitress and aspiring singer. Orlando is 20 years older than her, and owns a printing company. After celebrating Marina’s birthday one evening, Orlando falls seriously ill. Marina rushes him to the emergency room, but he passes away just after arriving at the hospital. Instead of being able to mourn her lover, suddenly Marina is treated with suspicion. The doctors and Orlando’s family don’t trust her. A woman detective investigates Marina to see if she was involved in his death. Orlando’s ex-wife forbids her from attending the funeral. And to make matters worse, Orlando’s son threatens to throw Marina out of the flat she shared with Orlando. Marina is a trans woman and for most of Orlando’s family, her sexual identity is an aberration, a perversion. So Marina struggles for the right to be herself. She battles the very same forces that she has spent a lifetime fighting just to become the woman she is now – a complex, strong, forthright and fantastic woman.

A Fantastic Woman (Una Mujer Fantastica) is a worthwhile watch that will give the audience something to think about. The Oscar nominated film from Chile manages to turn regular, ordinary life events into extraordinary and completely unique occurrences because of the film’s heroine.

Marina (played by Daniela Vega), the film’s heroine, is a transgender woman whose love interest died after a romantic night of celebrating Marina’s birthday.  The unexpected death of Orlando (played by Francisco Vega) lead to a chain of events and occurrences, none of which are fantastic. It was quite moving and sad to watch Marina’s treatment as she tries to cope with Orlando’s passing and the interferences to mourning him in the manner that she would like.

The story takes the audience to different parts of Santiago, Chile, a police station, a parking garage,  a funeral home, a bar, etc., none of which are remarkable. The common settings subtly send the message that Marina’s story could belong to anyone. While Marina's mistreatment occurs because she is transgender person, the issues could easily arise from a difference in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or age. Everyone is susceptible. A Fantastic Woman doesn't preach inclusion so much as it portrays the effects of division, and it does it well. 

The scenes, even though shot in ordinary locations,  are captured beautifully and the action of the plot is paced slow enough that the audience has enough time to enjoy every detail of a land far away. The audience will feel as if they have toured everyday Santiago locations by the time the credits roll. 

Daniel Vega is perfectly cast in the role of Marina. Through Vega's performance, it is easy to see how Marina is, genuinely, fantastic. Vega gave a delicate, but powerful, portrayal. It would nice to see this film catapult Vega into other roles. 

A Fantastic Woman is a great movie. It is thought-provoking and multi-layered. It's message is timely and well executed, without being preachy. Broaden your horizons. If you can't find it playing near you, search it out on some at-home format later. A Fantastic Woman is playing now. 

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