"A Fantastic Woman"

I was thrilled to see this film was available on the Starz cable channel app. I read wonderful reviews but like many smaller films, especially foreign language films, I could not find it anywhere. Marina is a transgender woman grieving the passing of her partner while dealing his ruthless family who is disapproving of her.

Daniela Vega is fantastic (naturally) as Marina. She is compelling in all facets the character endures and triumphs during the story. She went hard for her dog, Diabla. Francisco Reyes is strong as Orlando, Marina’s partner. He is warm and charming. Amparo Noguera plays Adriana, the detective, with cruel manipulation. Nicolás Saavedra plays Bruno, Orlando’s son, with intensity and similar cruelty as Adriana does. Trinidad González plays Wanda, Marina’s sister, with understanding and love. Néstor Cantillana plays Gastón, Wanda’s partner, with care and patience. Luis Gnecco plays Gabo, Orlando’s brother, with refreshing sympathy. Antonia Zegers and Aline Küppenheim, although in opposite portrayals in attitude for their characters, are outstanding in the supporting cast.

Director and Writer Sebastián Lelio gave moments of magical splendor through the depth of Marina’s thoughts. Santiago, Chile is a gorgeous setting. Co-Writer Gonzalo Maza gives Marina agency throughout the story. I truly felt for Marina because Orlando’s family treated her terribly. The pain could be justified because she was the last person to be with Orlando. However, the family is transphobic. The writing gives a realistic picture of the atrocities transgendered people endure. There is not much dialogue but the exchanges have much force. The actions drive the story. There is also sensuality over sexuality. With Marina, there is optimism for her to dream and thrive in her body.

This film won the 2018 Best International Feature Film Academy Award.