Film Review: The Fantastic Woman

Daniela Vega is a transgender actress playing the role of a transgender woman, Marina, whose older lover, Orlando, dies suddenly. Their love is established early, in the first 15 minutes of the film — and there is some fantastic cinematography of Santiago, Chile, and the Iguazu Falls where the lovers are planning a trip. With Orlando’s death the world turns harsh and cruel. Marina is treated brutally by Orlando’s ex-wife, his son and thuggish friends, by the doctors in the hospital and the police, as she struggles for the right to say good-bye to her beloved. Throughout, she retains a dignity combined with vulnerability and the aching sadness of profound grief — this is a powerful and convincing and admirable performance.

Chile is inhospitable to transgender people, and so is the United States — more so since the election of Trump and Pence. Watching this film — the tenderness and the violence of it — made me feel ashamed at what we do in the name of religion, or cultural purity, or whatever motivates such cruelty toward people simply trying to live their lives.

I can’t imagine this film is in wide distribution — it’s strong stuff. But see it if you can.

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