I couldn’t get the movie trailer out of my mind; I first saw it while watching the previews before Call Me By Your Name and I stalked the internet until I found a movie theater that was showing the movie (it was not easy to find).
My expectations were high and as I waited for the film to start, I feared that it wouldn’t live up to everything I expected it to be. A Fantastic Woman is a Chilean film which focuses on Marina (played by Daniela Vega). Marina is a transgender woman who is a waitress and cabaret singer who lives in Santiago, Chile. The movie follows her as she deals with the death of her lover, Orlando (played by Francisco Reyes).
This movie carries two very significant stories while seamlessly wrapping them into one inspiring cinematic journey. At its core, A Fantastic Woman is a romantic love story; we meet Orlando and Marina when their romance is passionate, endearing and magical. As we process the death of Orlando, we stumble into the daily struggles that continue to exist for transgender women.
When Marina is at the hospital, after finding out that Orlando has passed away, doctors and police officers refer to her in male pronouns. They treat her as a problem and her existence is treated as even more of a complication when we meet Orlando’s ex-wife and son. Neither of which can seem to understand why Orlando chose to be with Marina and they make their disdain abundantly clear.
Though this is a film about grieving a relationship, we’d be remiss to not mention the political narrative that swiftly moves the story along. Though progress in the LGBTQ community is constant, the reality of it is; there’s still a long way to go. As much as I’d like to proclaim the world as a more accepting and understand place, the reality is that it is still extremely dangerous for some to come out and even when living outwardly-proud, the danger is always just around the corner. Though some scenes were difficult to watch, it felt like we needed a necessary reminder of how much more work we have yet to do.
Daniela Vega is charismatic, absolutely heartbreaking and undeniably powerful in her portrayal of Marina. This film excels the political narrative and Daniela Vega’s performance, though historic if it garners an Oscar nomination, should be seen as more than a performance by a transgender actress. Though clearly Daniela is an unconventional female lead, her performance is deserving of all of the praise it is getting. She is pure magic in a bottle and she handled my heart with care as we moved through this beautiful story.
A Fantastic Woman, was the perfect film to start 2018 with. It was a necessary story told by inspiring voices (Daniela Vega and Director, Sebastian Lelio) and though it’s on an extremely limited release, I urge you to find a place that is showing this film.