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The Guardian Gives 'A Fantastic Woman' Five Stars

A Fantastic Woman review – timeless trans tale stands alongside Almodóvar

The Guardian – February 14, 2017

By Ryan Gilbey

The dynamic Chilean comedy Gloria went down a storm at the 2013 Berlinale where Paulina García was named best actress for her portrayal of a divorcee hitting the Santiago singles circuit. Now its director, Sebastián Lelio, is back at this year’s festival with another story of a resilient female refusing to live her life according to the demands of others. A Fantastic Woman has emerged as the mid-festival favourite for the Golden Bear, with the newcomer Daniela Vega likely to get her hands on the same prize as García. Such a win would be not only deserved but unprecedented, since it would make Vega the first transgender performer to scoop a major acting award.

Although A Fantastic Woman reunites the Gloria team, including Lelio’s co-writer, Gonzalo Maza, and his ambitious cinematographer, Benjamín Echazarreta, the tone of the new film is moody, even Hitchcockian in places, with precious few of the depressurising laughs of its predecessor. That’s only to be expected when the opposition faced by Marina (Vega), a young transgender singer in a relationship with an older man, is so brutal. She has only just moved in with Orlando (Francisco Reyes) when he suffers a fatal aneurysm. Before his body is even cold, she is being treated with suspicion and contempt by the authorities. Read more.

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