There are many reasons to like Fantastic Woman, written and directed by Sebastian Lelio and nominated for best foreign film in both the Golden Globes and the Oscars.
First, the film bravely challenges the stupidity of homophobes. More can and needs to be done to shine the light on cruel intolerance across the globe.
Second, certain scenes in the film were beautifully done: slow dance sequences and dance club sequences were evocative and sexy, Marina trail running with her dog overlooking the city of Santiago exhibited gorgeous cinematography.
Third, the acting was great. The main character (Marina) was portrayed by real life trans and opera singer Daniela Vega who wasn’t originally cast for the role. Lelio hired her on as a consultant, but after hearing the poignancy of her story, decided to use her as the lead. She makes Beyonce’s ‘fierce’ look like a fluffy bunny. Daniela Vega is truly a fantastic woman.
Francisco Reyes, though only on the screen for a short time, was also great. And back up!!! Doing my due diligent research, I discovered he also starred in The Club, a mind blowing Golden Globe foreign film from 2015.
Even the minor characters were portrayed with realistic subtlety of special note being the female police detective, Amparo Noguera and Francisco’s wife, Antonia Zegers, also nominated from the aforementioned The Club.
Ok, so what’s the problem, you ask? In a word (ok 5): Loose ends and sloppy editing. The screenplay could have easily tied up one of at least two loose ends. The fact that Marina was training for opera and the vacation Francisco proposes are never addressed. We also see the end result of a demand Marina made, but do not know how the transfer occurs. Supernatural scenes are ok, but some seemed to be non-sequitur.
Too bad, because had these small fixes been accomplished, this ‘coulda been a contender’.
One last note, Sebastian Lelio also directed Gloria from a few years back which was uplifting and fun. I see it’s being remade for American audiences with Julianne Moore. Let’s hope the originality doesn’t get lost in translation.