Director: Sabastian Lelio Starring: Daniela Vega, Franxisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Amparo Noguera Chile, Spain, Germany. 1h 44m
There’s a necessary moment near the end of Sabastian Lelios eye opening movie where the lead is jogging with her dog, a carefree run as her favourite track plays and she can finally take a deep breath and attempt to just live the best life, like anyone else. It’s at this moment where we, as an audience, can also take a breath as the entire film is just filled with small minded petty people who do nothing to wind up anyone with a rational thinking mind as the film zeroes in on intolerance and unbiased love.
A Fantastic Woman is a strangely lighthearted take on a pretty deep and complex story. And there was definitely a vibe going on at the time as it almost duped with Disobedience an equally challenging love struggle but with a heavy religious setting. This thought provoking movie will drag you to places that you wouldn’t imagine a person would need to go based purely on their choice of gender.
Starting out with a romantic candle lit dinner that drains into the emergency trip to the hospital, alone the young woman Marina (Vega) walks away from the magical date night, and somehow from something so pure and innocent her life is dumped upside down, she’s accused of battering her lover, Orlando, becomes a major suspect in the case of his death, looked down upon by his family members and has to be rescued many times both physically mentally and spiritually as she tries to to recover from losing her lover.
The unique selling point in the magic of Fantastic woman is that heroin isn’t like the other girls who could have acted the role Daniela Vega is a stunning multi talented trans woman having to face a world where are her mere presences a bone of contention with a lot of people, she’s able to infuse her own personal history with that of her character. The biggest argument is, would a CIS woman be able to play the role any better?
There are moments between the drama, where Fantastic woman often feels surreal, as Vega is often forced into uncomfortable situations. it’s a prominent factor in spanish cinema to have their characters go through several trials before finding peace (Wild Tales is the penultimate example of this) But through all the grief, anger, arguments and seeking freedom, the big question lingers, what on earth did in this case an answer to what’s in the locker.
Love isn’t something you search for.
-Professor de Canto
As Marina searches for answers and attempts to find a place in her heart and mind to heal from the loss of her lover, everything around her turns ugly, it seems that whatever she found in her now resting lover helped to protect her from all this.
In the final scenes there’s a strange sense of relief, but is there closure. I feel that without shoving it in the face of the audience there’s an obvious link to this movie and the lives of many transgenered people around the world, but this is just a beginning for equality and injustice as much as this is the beginning of a new life for Marina . It’s not supposed to be a tear jerker, in fact this film embodies the act of swallowing down those tears and being stronger than any other I’ve witnessed.
Fantastic woman feels like a movie made for the all the senses, it’s a visual and audible treat as the main character who we’re getting to know is a performer, this isn’t just about a transgender woman going through a hard time this is about Marina and everything else falls into place perfectly. Vega is the absolute perfect transgender arist to play the role, all the singing was done by her, and while I hope she hasn’t gone through this actual ordeal she’s one person who will understand the cold shoulder of adversity that a lot of LGBTQ people have to face. Is Fantastic Woman a prime example that you need to have the right person for a role? While I’m happy for anyone to take on the challenge to act in any role they choose to, is it poignant to have a transgender woman play a transgender woman? Should Eddie Redmayne have played Stephen Hawkins? Can Anne Boyelyn be portrayed by a black actress? We need to expand and allow actors to be actors, but sometimes, it’s so much more engrossing to see a role adapted by someone who’s walked in those shoes.
Related: The Sacred Family (2005), Gloria (2013), Disobedience (2017), The Danish Girl (2015)
Lists: Transgender Cinema Vol 1