A Fantastic Woman features a transgender woman who struggles to move on after her partner’s death
Watching a lover die isn’t easy. To make matters worse, add in being transgender and having a family made up of bigots. It turns into a nightmare.
A Fantastic Woman (2017) follows the story of Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega), a young transgender waitress and nightclub singer in a relationship with an older man named Orlando (Francisco Reyes). After a night out to celebrate Marina’s birthday, Orlando wakes up acting strange, so Marina rushes him to the hospital. Within minutes of arriving, Orlando passes away.
Following his death, Orlando’s family takes over his funeral arrangements and pushes Marina away, trying to ignore her and the “perversion” that they saw she and Orlando’s relationship as. Not only must Marina deal with her grief over the loss of her lover, but also with the prejudice from Orlando’s family and the humiliation she’s subject to during the investigation into Orlando’s death.
The film offers an eye-opening look at the struggles and suspicion that a transgender person can be subject to, all because they just want to be themselves. Vega herself, who is transgender, does an amazingly accurate job of portraying Marina in her struggles and, as the story progresses, the audience can feel her slow decline. The rest of the cast does a solid job, but Vega is the obvious star.
Directed by Sebastián Lelio, A Fantastic Woman is his fifth feature-length film and has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. The Argentinian-born, Chilean film director has won a number of awards for his film already, including a Silver Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Best Screenplay.
Many shots in the film are absolutely stunning, and often cross into a strangely surreal realm. There is also an ongoing use of mirrors and reflections in the shots that make for some fascinating cinematography and add to the air of surrealism.
While the film might not be for everyone, it offers a sensitive and visually appealing look at the trials that a transgender person often has to face in the world, and having a real transgender woman playing the lead role instead of, say, Jared Leto, is quite refreshing. For these things alone, it’s worth a watch.