A Fantastic Woman
Directed by Sebastián Lelio
A transgender woman endures a quarter-life storm.
In the movie currently favored to win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar next month, the title character “may be besieged, but she’s not defeated,” said David Sims in TheAtlantic.com. Marina Vidal, a waitress and nightclub singer in Santiago, Chile, has just lost her middle-aged male lover to a fatal aneurysm, yet she’s not being allowed to properly grieve because the police and the decedent’s family are far from comfortable with the fact that Marina is transgender. Instead of folding under pressure, she bears each rebuff “with sublimated fury.” Marina is played by transgender singer Daniela Vega, and her performance is magnetic, said Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times. As the insults mount, her “every flash of fury is grounded in a cool, radiant stillness.” By movie’s end, “we know precisely what—or rather, who—we’re looking at, but what matters more is that Marina seems to have known all along.” Though director Sebastián Lelio uses a few gorgeous dream sequences to reveal something of his heroine’s inner life, a part of the character “stays always a little out of Lelio’s reach,” said Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly. That’s OK; it’s still “heartbreaking, illuminating, and yes, fantastic, just to watch her live.”