Movie Review: A FANTASTIC WOMAN

The Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film this year is called A FANTASTIC WOMAN.

This drama from Chile is showing in Honolulu only at Kahala Mall, and I highly recommend it.

A FANTASTIC WOMAN is the quietly powerful story of Marina, a young transgender woman in love with a late middle aged man named Orlando. We are told that they've been a couple for about a year. She has just moved into his apartment when tragedy strikes.

Marina: Orlando, What's wrong?

Orlando: I don't know. (He collapses.)

The shock of Orlando's sudden death from an aneuryism  is immediate. But what makes Marina's grief even harder to bear is that the authorities think she may have killed Orlando.

Cop: Miss Marina Vidal?

Marina: You don't have to treat me like a criminal.

And except for Orlando's brother, his family completely rejects Marina and regards her as a threat, even a pervert.

Orlando's ex-wife is barely civil to her.

Ex-wife: I'm just looking out for my loved ones. That's all.

Marina: Orlando was a loved one to me.

Ex-wife: Yes, but you won't go to the funeral or wake. Understood? I don't know how to explain it. What can I say? Daniel. You are not going to the funeral or anywhere else.

The family even takes the dog Orlando had given Marina.

Daniela Vega is magnetic in the title role. So much of her pain and strength are revealed in close ups of her face and in the dreamlike segments the director creates to show her intense reactions to her fate.

The discrimination Marina experiences goes beyond rejection. At one point, several of the men in Orlando's family confront her.

Marina: What do you want? (to male family members in car)

Men: Go destroy someone else's family.

Even though these men abduct and torment Marina, her spirit remains unbroken.

(She faces down the family car in the cemetery.)

Ex-wife: Move, move! Crazy man! Get lost!

(Marina climbs onto the roof of the car.)

Brother: Marina! Don't do that!

Marina (jumping up and down on the roof of the car): I want my dog!

Marina (looking straight into the camera): My name is Marina Vidal. Do you have a problem with that?

A FANTASTIC WOMAN is a sobering experience that is likely to stick with you for a long time. This movie is something special and really deserves the Oscar it won.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.  thunter@hawaiinewsnow.com