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‘A Fantastic Woman’ will break your heart but make you fall in love with Daniela Vega

The Chilean transgender melodrama has just been nominated for an Academy Award
Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman
[Image: Sony Pictures Classic]

‘A Fantastic Woman’

Director: Sebastian Lelio

Actors: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes

Rating: R

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4 (Out Of 5) Globes

Plot: Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega) is a transgender woman that works as a waitress and an aspiring singer, who is in love with Orlando (Francisco Reyes). Despite the 30-year age gap between them Marina and Orlando are planning their future together. But all of that instantly dissipates when Orlando suddenly falls ill and dies. Marina is unable to grieve her lover, though, as she is treated with suspicion by police and Orlando’s family, who quickly look to stop her from attending the funeral or be involved in anyway. 

Review: “A Fantastic Woman” doesn’t need to scream or strain in order to make you fall in love with it. Instead, co-writer and director Sebastian Lelio, who wrote the film alongside Gonzalo Maza, allows the drama to unfold slowly. He invites you into the story and to feel the embrace of the warm, loving couple Marina (Daniela Vega) and Orlando (Francisco Reyes), while also nonchalantly setting up the plots and conflicts that at first fester before then exploding in a pointed and thought-provoking manner.

The death of Orlando is the catalyst that brings Marina, her plight, and the constant struggles that she faces on a daily basis to the fore. The contempt she faces ranges from sly looks, to obvious discrimination, includes disparaging comments, and even becomes physical at times. While the death of Orlando, and the reaction of his ex-wife, children, and family, heightens the emotion and drama of the film, Daniela Vega’s absorbing, stoic, vulnerable, yet heartfelt portrayal still makes you feel every barb.

It’s the ultimate proof of why we need to see more transgender actresses telling transgender stories, as Vega adds a beauty, poetry, and brutal realism that immediately forges a bond between the character, her story, and the audience. Sure, “A Fantastic Woman” might unfold in a relatively straightforward manner, but it is so moving and impactful that it will instantly increase awareness and mold the minds of those that see it. 

 
 
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