Marina and Orlando share a life together. They are in love. Then one day Orlando has a heart attack and dies, sustaining bruises as she tries to get him down the stairs and to the hospital. Marina is in a deep state of grief for her lover, but it's a grief that is not permissible or acceptable in contemporary Santiago, and maybe anywhere yet. The doctor tells her to wait outside the treatment area, Orlando's family won't permit her to attend the funeral. The police think the relationship might've been commercial, or abusive. They demand and invasive examination to be sure. Marina and Orlandos' love is seen as perverse; something that can't be seen in front of the children; Marina as unreal. And finally, their love is something to be physically punished, Marina brutalised. And through all this we have Marina, quiet, enduring, emotional trauma etched on her face, forced into the margins of her dead lover's life. No wonder she escapes into a beautiful fantasy world where she exudes strength, beauty and confidence, where she can still see her lover.
That this film is as powerful as it is owes much to the quiet nobility of trans actress Daniela Vega's lead performance, and the superb direction of Sebastian Leila (GLORIA) that mingles clean sharp-coloured Santiago with a more wonderful neon-lit disco dream world. This contrasts with a script that is very matter of fact, linear, straight forward. It's a film that centres us on Marina and the thousand small cuts of cruelty she suffers - the power is cumulative and quite devastating.
A FANTASTIC WOMAN has a running time of 104 minutes and is rated R in the USA and 15 in the UK for strong language and discriminatory behaviour. The film played London 2017 and won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.