JEANNE'S REVIEW

 

Love stories are changing --- and that's a good thing. 2017 gave us three of the most beautiful in recent memory, Oscar nominees for Best Picture, "Call Me By Your Name" and "The Shape of Water", plus "A Fantastic Woman", the Oscar-nominated entry for Best Foreign Language Film from Chile. All present a variation on love and happiness.

 

Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega) and Orlando (Francisco Reyes), 20 years her senior, are very much in love. You can see it in the tenderness and passion they reserve for each other. Orlando plans a lovely birthday celebration for Marina. Following a night of dancing and making love, Orlando becomes ill.

 

In her haste to get him to the hospital, Marina turns her back on him for a brief moment and Orlando plunges down a flight of stairs. Shortly after arriving at the emergency room, Orlando dies and Marina becomes the object of suspicion for the doctors, police and particularly Orlando's family.

 

What makes Marina such a target for all of these people is the fact that she is transgender --- a non-issue for Orlando, but his ex-wife and son are vicious in their treatment of Marina. The son kicks her out of the lovely apartment she shared with Orlando and takes her dog. His ex-wife forbids her to attend Orlando's funeral. Subjection to violence as a trans woman is nothing new for Marina, but she will not be denied the things for which she strives --- and getting her dog back.

 

Directed by Sebastián Lelio, who co-wrote the screenplay with Gonzalo Maza,  "A Fantastic Woman" is a remarkable film --- with a fantastic performance from Vega. The character of Marina is so richly developed --- she is so full of strength and surprises --- and Vega delves into the complexities of this person with verve and determination.

 

When asked what she wanted people to take away from "A Fantastic Woman", Vega explains what a difficult process this was for her, and that she wants people to "discover the way in which we understand relationships and affections. As well as the way in which we conceive love." If "A Fantastic Woman" is able to change even one individual's conception of love, I believe Vega, Lelio, Maza and their marvelous team have accomplished a great thing.

 

Lelio has recently directed his first English-speaking film, "Disobedience" starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. It looks like exceptional love stories are a trend.

 

Opinion: Strong See It Now!