Nutshell: Moving, bittersweet and powerful, A Fantastic Woman not only makes it’s mark as a Best Foreign Film Oscar contender, but as a reminder that the struggle for LGBTQ rights is still very much a struggle. Grade: A
“Saying goodbye to a loved one when he dies is a basic human right, isn’t it?”
Story: Cabaret singer Marina is beautiful, talented and loved by a man who adores her. But when he dies suddenly, her world is turned upside-down. Not only because the love of her life is gone, but as a trans woman, her ability to grieve is put on hold as many around her try to strip her of her dignity.
Genre I’d put it in: Beautiful Bittersweet Foreign Films
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Original
Gotta say: In today’s day and age, why do we need films about the struggle for LGBTQ rights? Well, as Fantastic shows, the struggle is far from over. Especially with the change in political climates in many areas of the world (including our own here in the States), there is a need to stop, focus, and remember that all human beings are just that: human. We’re all equal in that regard…so why not be equal in all things? Pretty simple, yes?
No. In Fantastic, Marina (Daniela Vega) not only struggles with the death of her longtime boyfriend, but has to deal with the backlash of being “other” in the eyes of his family. The ex-wife, his son, the police and doctors, all immediately thinking that Marina has “done something” to him, and that her relationship, and Orlando’s love for her is a “perversion”.
Meanwhile, Vega portrays Marina’s heartbreak and shock in scenes where she’s alone, trying to cope. The scene where Marina is driving after the loss of her partner is heartbreaking. The camera first focuses on the empty seat next to her. No, YOU’RE CRYING.
Vega’s performance is commanding, riveting. Her Marina is dazed, hurting, and in shock. But instead of being able to grieve, she has to deal with family and professionals who are no more than looky-loos too absorbed with fine details instead of focusing on grief, loss, and the man who they’ve all just lost.
Oh how I love The Allan Parsons Project’s “Time”. And it’s well used here, in this story of a woman who must continue on after the death of her partner. It’s as touching and bittersweet as this film. Hand me another tissue, will you?
There are beautiful moments here among the sadness. Time Marina spends with her dog. Her gorgeous opening number at the start of the film. And a gloriously sparkly fantasy sequence, complete with chorus girls, groovy costumes, and a Busby Berkeley vibe. It’s fabulous. What? I like sparkly.
Definitely a call to lock your will down tight if you’re in anything but a cis-hetero legal marriage. Sad, but true.
#Protip: Interested in seeing who else has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film? Here you go.