Reel Shorts | A Fantastic Woman (Middleburg Film Festival)

by Monica Hayes

This story of love, loss, and resilience will take you through a gambit of emotions from sadness to complete outrage in Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman.

Marina (Daniela Vega) is a transgender woman and her much older boyfriend Orlando (Francisco Reyes) are madly in love with each other and are happy in their own world together. One night, Orlando arises from his sleep and is rushed to the hospital where he suffers an aneurysm and suddenly dies.

Marina, being who she is, subjected to criminal questioning at the hospital, she is subjected a physical inquiry exam by the Sexual Offenses Investigation Unit, and if that wasn’t horrible enough, she is forced out of the home she and her Orlando have lived in by his asshole son. Marina told by Orlando’s ex-wife Sonia (Aline Küppenheim) that she is not welcomed at the wake nor the funeral because she could be a distraction and cause undue stress to the family. Sonia, still hurt by her divorce from Orlando, goes a step further and called her a “Chimera” … Ouch!

Though out the film, Marina is repeatedly the subject of disgusting treatment, second looks, immoral comments and physical abuse all because of who she is. However, being who she is, Marina takes it all in stride, keeps her head up and doesn’t let them dissuade her at any turn. Not. One. Bit.

Director Lelio telling of Marina’s experiences as a transgender woman living in Chile and dealing with discrimination on a daily basis is riveting. At times, it was hard to watch Vega’s performance, in this writer’s opinion, because the script at some point in time, must have hit home to her personally. I could be wrong, but as an African American woman, and having to deal with the daily discrimination and judgments (outwardly and inwardly), I can only imagine what it is like to be a member of the LGBT community and having to endure this on a daily basis.

Overall, A Fantastic Woman gives audiences an in-depth view into the lives of the LGBT community, the good and the bad. There are a couple of questions that were not answered during the film like: How can the ex-spouse, dictate what happens to a deceased spouse? Why did the one family member who was on Marina and Orlando’s side, step up and tell the family to allow her to attend the services? Hell, let her come, and then you never have to see her again. That aside, overall good movie.

Grade: B+