After Chilean director Sebastián Lelio stunned us with Gloria, his film about a divorcée navigating the pleasures and indignities of mid-life romance, he returns with A Fantastic Woman. Not just a dead-on title but a sort of declaration of artistic principles, Lelio’s latest proves his commitment to exploring and celebrating the inner lives of women with intelligence, sensitivity, and style.
Marina (Daniela Vega), a young waitress and aspiring singer, is beautiful, enigmatic, and planning for the future with her lover, Orlando. After celebrating her 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, Marina is treated with suspicion. The viciousness of Orlando’s son, the cold-heartedness of Orlando’s ex-wife, and the intrusiveness of a detective from the Sexual Offenses Investigation Unit force Marina to not only clear her name, but also to demand the very thing that no one seems willing to give her: respect. Being compared for its visuals to Spanish-language auteur Pedro Almodóvar, Lelio’s film shares an alluring sensitivity to colors, textures, and compositions. Suffused with an air of subversive noir, it’s also a smart spin on the genre, and a timely film that helps move trans characters from the margins to the spotlight. *A Fantastic Woman will represent Chile in this year’s Oscar race for best foreign-language film. In Spanish with subtitles.
(Chile / 2017 / Directed by Sebastián Lelio)
R / 1 hr 43 mins.