A Fantastic Woman is a very simple film, far more simple than it initially appears. Essentially the story boils down to this: A transgender woman has to deal with the family of her lover after his sudden and unexpected death. The film deals with themes of transphobia and grief, and it explores those particular themes very well, in some very confronting and uncomfortable ways, but from a story and character perspective, this film often leaves a lot to be desired.
Marina, the titular 'Fantastic Woman', is defined purely by the fact that she's transgender. This isn't a big flaw per se, as the film is explicitly about how the culture of Chile and the world at large responds to that fact, but she doesn't really have much character besides that. She's a singer, she boxes, and she's very driven to get what she wants, despite the high amounts of adversity she faces throughout the film. The driving force of her character is her desire to pay her respects to her dead boyfriend one last time, while his family refuses to give her that, seeing her as a shameful part of his final moments, best forgotten. She isn't given that much development besides that, and it leaves us with a very one, maybe two-dimensional character with no real flaws that have consequences within the story.
However the main issue I have with the film is that it basically abandons several plot threads as it goes along. Early in the film, there is some suspicion of foul play surrounding the boyfriend's death and she, being the last person to be with him, is the prime suspect. However this is mostly abandoned after one particularly uncomfortable scene where she is forced to have a physical examination by the detective and a doctor, which after its conclusion is basically hand waved away without much further thought. It is not brought up again (to my recollection) as to whether she is still seen as somehow complicit in her boyfriend's death, or whether the police decided to abandon the case altogether.
Another plot thread that seemed to be abandoned is the entire opening scene, where it establishes the couple's relationship before the man dies, where he mentions buying tickets to see a famous waterfall in 10 days time, but has misplaced the tickets. To my memory, she never finds the tickets or goes to the waterfall to do anything after the conclusion of the movie. It just seems like another missed opportunity for further development.
I do want to make clear though, that I do think this film is still worth watching. Transgender characters are still relatively rare in film and television, and even when they do pop up every now and then, they are often portrayed by non-transgender actors in heavy makeup. However Daniela Vega is herself transgender, and she plays the role, limited as it is, incredibly well. The cinematography is also quite beautiful, and there are several visual setpieces that looked great (while not really serving much purpose to the plot) It's definitely something worth watching on the big screen, but I probably won't put it on for a second time.
A Fantastic Woman
A Fantastic Woman
Somewhere in Santiago at a dimly-lit nightclub, Orlando, the kindly and well-off owner of a textile company, locks eyes with Marina, a hopeful singer and the roughly half-his-age love of his life. But, unfortunately, after Marina's birthday celebration and a night of passion, Orlando falls gravely ill--and by the following morning--he dies in hospital. In the wake of her companion's untimely death, Marina will soon realise that, from now on, everything is brought into question: her involvement in Orlando's death, their unconventional relationship; and above all, her right to mourn her beloved deceased. In the end, what was Marina's crime; a deed so hideous that would rob a fantastic woman of her respect, her dignity, and ultimately, her identity?
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May 16, 2018 at 09:02 PM