Thursday, February 8, 2018

Movie with Abe: A Fantastic Woman

A Fantastic Woman
Directed by Sebastian Lelio
Released February 2, 2018

Hate is a terrible thing that’s extremely prevalent throughout the world. Hatred can be baseless and come from nothing, but usually it stems from a misunderstanding of or disagreement with who or what someone is or represents. Their inability to comprehend another’s situation or mindset doesn’t lead to the asking of questions or a desire to come around to a new point of view. Rarely does anything good come from someone being shunned by others, and being treated with disdain just for existing can be devastating and immensely damaging.

Marina (Daniela Vega) is a waitress and aspiring singer in Santiago living a peaceful and pleasant life with her caring boyfriend Orlando (Francisco Reyes). When Orlando becomes ill one night and dies after being rushed to the hospital, Marina’s life implodes. The doctor at the hospital finds her suspicious and everyone in Orlando’s family aside from his brother treat her as less than human because she is a trans woman. Questioned by a detective investigating sexual offenses, Marina struggles to hold herself together as she is denied the opportunity to mourn the man she loved because his family considers her to be an abomination.

This film opens with such kindness being projected onto Marina by the doting and adoring Orlando, who has purchased tickets for a vacation for her birthday but misplaced them. The way in which Marina is subsequently swiftly ejected from any claim on being a legitimate part of Orlando’s life is especially cruel, and her attempts to take the high road and remain levelheaded opposite those who can barely look at her is admirable but does little to improve her situation. She is all too forgiving when she receives meaningless apologies from those who talk down to her, and remains committed to being who she is and charging ahead despite infinite obstacles to her happiness.

Vega is a clear breakout, defining the title character and making sure that she is indeed a fantastic woman, revered only by Orlando but capable of so much when faced with such unnecessary and humiliating persecution. This is a great follow-up for director Sebastian Lelio, whose last film, “Gloria,” also had an unforgettable lead female character who drove and commanded the film. Though it comes from Chile as that country’s Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film, this is a universal story that gives Vega a superb showcase and spotlights the will to overcome or at least combat misery and intolerance for those who are different.


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