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A FANTASTIC WOMAN

SYNOPSIS:
Marina (Daniela Vega), a waitress who moonlights as a nightclub singer, is bowled over by the death of her older boyfriend (Francisco Reyes).

Review by Louise Keller:
A transgender woman is the subject of Chilean director Sebastian Lelio's latest film, an intriguing story about love, loss, sexuality and acceptance. Just like his 2013 film, Gloria, which offered a wonderful platform for his leading lady Paulina Garc’a, Lelio's A Fantastic Woman does the same for the extraordinary Daniela Vega, whose performance is nothing short of mesmerising. Vega is as enigmatic as her character with which we share an emotionally rich journey. It's a potent film with emotional twists and turns that lead to unexpected places. Constantly surprising, the film is a rare jewel.

Replete with a gorgeous score filled with violins and arpeggios that offer musical motifs akin to question marks, the film begins with a spectacular close up of a waterfall cascading. These Iguazu Falls are part of the narrative - although not in any way that you might expect. We meet Marina Vidal, transgender singer and waitress and glimpse into her life. Her relationship with Orlando (Francisco Reyes) is succinctly described. She flutters her eyelashes at him as she sings 'Your love is like yesterday's newspaper'; enjoys his attentions at her birthday dinner; is happily seduced in his apartment.

Orlando's death is the catalyst that changes everything. Marina goes from being nurtured to being accused, confronted, demeaned and rejected. The police, and Orlando's brother, ex-wife, son and others appear one by one and make their marks. Look out for Aline Kupperheim as Sonia, Orlando's scathingly dismissive ex-wife; their meeting in the carpark is as cutting as a razor. There are actions and reactions. Meanwhile, Lelio takes us into Marina's skin and we feel her heat beat as she tries to make sense of it all. The colour blue features predominantly. There is a puzzle to solve, a heart-break with which to reconcile, credibility to regain and a jigsaw life that needs to be reassembled.

This is a film that lingers. It aches with sensitivity, bristles with pain and reassures by the strength and determination of the human spirit. Superb cinema.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

A FANTASTIC WOMAN (M)
(Chile/Germany/Spain/US, 2017)

Una Mujer Fantastica

CAST: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Kuppenheim, Nicolas Saavedra

PRODUCER: Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain, Sebastian Lelio, Gonzalo Maza

DIRECTOR: Sebastian Lelio

SCRIPT: Sebastian Lelio, Gonzalo Maza

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Benjamin Echazarreta

EDITOR: Soledad Salfate

MUSIC: Nani Garcia, Matthew Herbert

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Estafania Larrain

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Releasing

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 22, 2018







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