A Fantastic Woman

Directed by Sebastian Lelio

Starring – Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco

The Plot – Marina (Vega) and Orlando (Reyes) 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.

Rated R for adult language, sexual content, nudity and a disturbing assault.


– There’s a vintage kind of Mexican cinematography glow that makes the setting feel timeless, and really feeds into Lelio visionary aspects as a student of classic film.

– This is one of those films that I feel will benefit you the less you know and hear about it going in. In this beneficial stance, the unfurling and turns that the screenplay takes will be able to omit more versatility in your emotional palate.

– The decision to cast an actual transexual actress is one that pays dividends to the many kinds of audiences who will take in this film. From this angle, you feel like you are actually witnessing prejudice taking place before your very eyes, removing that safe shield of watching something that is being controlled in screenplay.

– Speaking of said actress, Vega’s exceptional turn as Marina speaks levels to her presence as a screen commander. Once she is alone for a majority of the scenes, you start to really immerse yourself in her loneliness, and that solid streak of empathy really invests you in her transformation by film’s end.

– Perhaps the biggest positive to this screenplay is that it examines social prejudices from many angles and levels. For instance, well beyond the backlash that Marina faces from Orlando’s family, she also faces it from strangers, colleagues, and even law authority that all see her as the thing they’ve been taught to hate.

– Beautiful lighting scheme that speaks levels to the rise and fall of love. When Marina and Orlando are together, the film’s backdrops are very vibrant and full of life, yet when she’s been widowed, there’s a very cold and callous cloud surrounding her. It’s almost something poisonous that you can taste in the air.

– Composer Nani Garcia’s occasionally somber and mostly flute-influenced musical score that audibly narrates the many stages of grief with compassion. While the film can sometimes have trouble accurately channeling the correct tone that they are going for in a particular scene, Garcia’s commanding presence really offers us a candid dive into Marina’s psyche during the times she could use that love that once protected her.


– The screenplay can periodically feel too meandering because of its popular song choices and fantasy sequences that feel forced into the rest of its parts. Often, these scenes come out of nowhere and really feel like they’re hammering the points home desperately that they were already doing succesfully without them.

– Because this is a film that centers around grieving, the pacing in particular will test the audience’s patience. I say this because (Like Marina) what you see is what you get with this film. It never involves itself with subplots or anything that doesn’t match its agenda, and while that might not sound too harmful, the straight and narrow path of progression is one that can negatively effect moviegoers.

– I was regrettably a little disappointed with the final couple of scenes in the movie. This doesn’t have anything to do with Marina’s finishing state of mind, but rather her closure with the characters around her who feel like they never learn anything from that conflict.


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