A Fantastic Woman

Transgender actress Daniela Vega gives a star-making turn in this stylish drama from Chilean director Sebastián Lelio

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 19 Feb 2018
Film title: A Fantastic Woman
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Starring: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim, Amparo Noguera
Release date: 2 Mar
Certificate: 15

Following 2013’s crowd-pleasing Gloria, Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman is another portrait of an unconventional female protagonist defying the expectations of those around her and societal norms. Marina (Vega) is deeply in love with Orlando (Reyes), a businessman 20 years her senior, but when he suddenly dies she is ostracised by Orlando’s family, and denied the opportunity to even attend his funeral. The issue is that Marina is transgender, and Lelio’s film follows her fight for her love to be recognised as legitimate in the face of prejudice and hostility.

The director’s inclusion of stylised fantasy sequences are sometimes too on-the-nose (see Marina leaning into an overpowering wind, or facing her own image as a mirror is carried past), and the collection of one-dimensional homophobes and bullies that she comes up against risks making the drama too didactic. Fortunately, Lelio has a secret weapon in Daniela Vega, whose star-making performance invests the film with emotional honesty and gives us a heroine worth rooting for. She really is fantastic. [Philip Concannon]

A Fantastic Woman screens at Glasgow Film Festival: 25 Feb, GFT, 8.40pm & 26 Feb, GFT, 1.15pm
Released in the UK 2 Mar by Curzon Artificial Eye

Read more about Glasgow Film Festival in The CineSkinny – in print at Glasgow Film Theatre and the CCA, and online at theskinny.co.uk/film/cineskinny