Slough Cooperative Film Society Slough Cooperative Film Society

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2nd October 2018 DATCHET VILLAGE HALL

A FANTASTIC WOMAN (Una mujer fantástica)

Chile/USA/Germany/Spain 104 mins Cert.15


Marina Vidal Daniela Vega Director Sebastián Lelio
Orlando Onetto Francisco Reyes Screenplay Sebastián Lelio,
Gabriel ‘Gabo’ Onetto Luis Gnecco Gonzalo Maza
Sonia Aline Küppenheim Cinematographer Benjamin Echazaretta
Bruno
Adriana Cortés
Wanda
Nicolás Saavedra
Amparo Noguera
Trinidad González
Editor
Music
Soledad Salfate
Matthew Herbert

With remarkable sensitivity, this drama by Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio (Gloria) tells a vital story that carries a fiercely moving kick. Indeed, it's one of the most important films of the year, exploring a timely issue with dignity and grace: a cry for compassion in a callous world. It's also quite simply beautiful, written and directed with artistry and skilfully well-acted, most notably by Daniela Vega in the title role.

A Fantastic Woman poster

As Orlando plans to take his girlfriend Marina away for her birthday, his sudden death leaves Marina bereft, sending her into an odyssey of discrimination. This includes aggressive insinuation from a detective and far worse from Orlando's ex-wife and son, who want her to relinquish Orlando's flat and dog. The issue is that Marina is a trans woman, and people feel justified in treating her cruelly. She has learned to just keep quiet and accept this, but maybe it's time for her to find her voice.

Even with this powerful message, the film never preaches. The story unfolds as a personal journey as Lelio keeps the camera close to Marina, catching her reactions even when no one else sees them. It's clear that she feels very strongly about how she's being treated, but it's second nature to shut up and take the abuse that is almost constantly hurled her way, sometimes very subtly. And no one takes into consideration the fact that she's grieving.

Vega delivers a devastating performance as a woman who is feisty, funny, emotionally open and extremely steely. She's so kind that it's hard to understand why everyone is so awful to her, yet she responds with respect for everyone. So her story arc is profoundly moving. Other cast members also create vivid, complex characters with meaningful inner lives of their own. But it's how they react to Marina that tells us the most about them.

It's no mean feat that Lelio uses such an internalised drama to highlight a huge issue. Without shouting, it says a lot about the effects of righteous bigotry and deep-seated prejudice buried in the fabric of society. Because it really doesn't matter that Marina is trans; she's a human being worthy of being treated with care. Moral indignation never excuses prejudice. So by the end, we'd like to get up and fight alongside her. And perhaps we'll have the chance to do just that sooner than we think.

Rich Cline at www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk