A Fantastic Woman (2017)

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Image via miff.com.au

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The sublime Daniela Vega holds the screen from start to end in this delicate exploration of marginalisation and grief.

Marina (Vega) has just moved in with her older lover Orlando (Francisco Reyes). She is a singer by night and a waitress by day and together they are planning a life. When Orlando suddenly takes ill, Marina must deal with his family, who don’t accept her part in his life.

This is a universal story of the difficulties faced by marginalised people when their rights are unsupported. For Marina, she must content with prejudice so vehement that she is humiliated and treated as less than a person. She must also deal with those more well-meaning people in authority who see her as a pathology not a person.

The film takes its time with the story, allowing us to sit back and observe. We follow Marina as she tries to adapt to her sudden displacement as well as processing her grief, the camera rarely straying from her face. Like in My Happy Family, music provides a beautiful texture to the story, including a sad but strong coda, one of the most powerful moments of the film.

With the current ‘debate’ in Australia about marriage equality, this highlights the importance of both legal status in relationships as well as social acceptance. I felt strongly the precariousness of Marina’s life and what a haven her very real relationship with Orlando must have been. This is not because she needs the protection of a man but because he fully accepted her for being exactly who she is. It seems ludicrous that this would not be how we always interact with people.


Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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