A Fantastic Woman (2017)

fantastic woman poster 2017 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Thoughtful story


Movie Info

Movie Name: A Fantastic Woman

Studio: Participant

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s):  February 12, 2017 (Berlin International Film Festival)/April 6, 2017 (Chile)/February 2, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

fantastic woman francisco reyes daniela vega

Things can change in a flash

Orlando (Francisco Reyes) and his girlfriend Marina (Daniela Vega) feel they have a perfect relationship.  Marina has just moved in with him, and they are happen.  Tragedy strikes and Orlando suddenly passes away leaving Marina in mourning.  Unfortunately for Marina, Orlando’s family doesn’t approve of Marina and her relationship with Orlando because Marina is a transgender woman.  Marina finds herself the target of a police investigation, accusations, and physical attacks…and her opportunity to mourn may not be an option.

Directed by Sebastián Lelio (who cowrote the script with Gonzalo Maza), A Fantastic Woman (Una mujer fantástica) is a Chilean drama.  The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and was well received.  It won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film (a first for Chile).

fantastic woman funeral scene

Now who’s causing a scene, lady?

A Fantastic Woman is a tough movie dealing with tough subjects.  It is a movie that leaves you cringing with uncomfortable moments, but it is also a thoughtful moment by really raising the question…who is allowed to mourn?

The movie has a lot of things going on in it.  The picture deals with the plight of transgendered people in society, police harassment, hate crimes, and death.  Marina not only has no rights since she and Orlando are not married, but it becomes increasingly brutal since her love for Orlando isn’t understood or recognized by hardly anyone (except to some extent by Orlando’s brother Gabo.  She’s told not to attend the wake or funeral and belittled and physically attacked when she does.  This is a hate crime.  While the idea of a family not approving of a partner of someone is genderless (it happens all the time), this situation clearly is about the type of woman that Marina is…and it does a great job looking at her side.

fantastic woman hate crime daniela vega

Terrifying scene because you don’t know where this is going to end

Daniela Vega is a standout in the movie as she wanders around shell-shocked.  Like her character, she has admitted struggles in her life, and I’m sure it helps fuel the rage and fear that Marina shows and represses.  Francisco Reyes isn’t in the movie long (it might have been nicer to see more of he and Marina’s relationship), but he is good in the portion he is in…and the name Orlando does raise its own connotations in regards to sex and gender.  The cast of Alina Küppenheim, Luise Gnecco, and Nicolás Saavedra show a nice range for different family member reactions.  Amparo Noguera is also a standout as the detective who viewers might suspect sympathy from simply because she’s a woman but demonstrates cold and callus behavior (for the most part).

fantastic woman daniel vega dog


The movie looks good.  The setting of Santiago, Chile isn’t always common for international viewers, and it is always good to see a different part of the world.  The location is combined with some great cinematography that even dives into fantasy sequences and a lot about the human “gaze”…cold, warped, or warm.

A Fantastic Woman is a great movie and this is where things like the Academy Awards do help.  I don’t know if I would have seen the movie if it hadn’t been nominated or if it hadn’t have won.  In addition to the Academy Award win, the movie helped Chile pass a gender identity bill which is a bigger win.  For all the Academy Awards criticisms, it does sometimes make the right call, and A Fantastic Woman is a fantastic movie…check it out (but be ready to be uncomfortable…which isn’t always a bad thing).

Related Links:

The 90th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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