Marina, is a waitress and an aspiring singer. She goes on a romantic dinner date with hr much older boyfriend Orlando, who also happens to be rich. Later that night, Orlando wakes up feeling very unwell. Unable to stand up, he collapses and falls down a staircase. Marina rushes him to a hospital, but Orlando dies, apparently from a brain aneurysm. This is where the trouble begins where the cops and Orlando’s family both suspect her for foul play and if Orlando paid for sex. Orlando’s ex wife and son want her out of Orlando’s apartment as soon as possible. And if this was not enough, they forbid her to attend Orlando’s wake or funeral. The only person who is remotely empathetic to her is Orlando’s elder brother. All Marina wants is to pay her respects and be allowed to say her goodbye but what she gets isa humiliating physical examination, assault by Orlandos’ son and his friends. The exclusions have more to do with her identity rather than the death of Orlando. She's not only treated as a second-class citizen but as a non-Person.
The film has a certain calm and sensitive flow about it. The subject is treated with dignity, respect, sensitivity and empathy that a subject like this deserves. There are a couple of sequences where reality meets fantasy and others where there re long shots of Marina walking through the streets of Santiago all alone in her journey and survival in this big bad world. A good part of the film is also about marina trying to find what the mysterious key holds answers to which she finds in Orlando’s car, but the outcome is disappointing. Daniela Vega as Marina is absolutely fantastic. The pain and agony she portrays is really moving. She is in pretty much every frame of the film portraying her loneliness, fear, pain and agony of bereavement. This film is about a person asserting her right to be treated like a person. All the other characters also do their part with sincerity. It felt, sometimes, like watching an Almodovar movie, a bit poetic in certain scenes but it did hold its individuality. I don’t remember the film’s name but years ago I saw a film where the family doesn’t allow the partner of their son to say final goodbye to him just because world would know that he died of AIDS. The scenario is similar but with the transsexual angle, this becomes an even more sensitive.
A Fantastic Woman is a brilliant film and rightfully deserving an Academy Award. A richly humane, moving study of someone keeping alive the memory and the fact of love is not to be missed at all. (8/10)