A Fantastic Woman Screen 69 of 12 reviews

A Fantastic Woman

2017

A Fantastic Woman Poster
  • Suffused with fantastical elements, dreamlike sequences and hallucinatory images, "A Fantastic Woman" stars Daniela Vega, a trans actress, and her performance roots the film in a kind of intimate verisimilitude. . . . Lelio approaches this material with sensitivity and empathy. There's restraint in his style, eloquent as it is.

  • The film is dead simple in its visual execution, except for some symbolic flourishes that will either jar with you or make you feel there’s a mysterious resonance you can’t quite pinpoint... But it was the most accomplished mainstream film in competition at this year’s Berlinale, and as Marina, transgender performer Daniela Vega gave one of the most fascinating performances to be seen here, shifting moods... from shot to shot with mercurial fluidity. Fantástica, for sure.

  • Lelio is a superb director of actors, and he’s especially talented at conveying intimacy between characters who know each other well. The film even achieves a certain exuberance when Marina goes to a dance club and tries to lose herself. As she momentarily forgets about Orlando and the pain his relatives have caused her, Marina finds herself in a new costume performing a choreographed number with about a dozen other people. It’s a hard-won celebration of Marina’s right to be herself.

  • A true star, of any vintage, can make the small seem grand. In her first major screen role, Daniela Vega, who plays Marina Vidal, the beleaguered central character in Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman, elevates even the most mundane action—petting a dog, lifting an arm to activate a motion-sensor hallway light—into a gesture of minor majesty. With every pause or look, the actress ennobles an unsteady melodrama.

  • There are moments of outright fantasy, the most striking of which is a Buster Keaton-like image of Marina walking down a windy street. But like Lelio’s breakthrough film, Gloria, A Fantastic Woman is at its most compelling as a conventional character study of an unconventional female lead. Plotting is not its strong suit; it gets repetitive and washy in later stretches. But that’s also (sort of) the point.

  • There are clumsy elements in A Fantastic Woman, such as the name of Marina’s late boyfriend (a nod to Virginia Woolf’s androgynous heroine), or a scene in which Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” happens to play on the radio. Lelio’s film isn’t perfect, but through Vega’s presence, it does its best to give full cinematic agency to a woman traditionally marginalized.

  • Transgender actress Daniela Vega turns in a remarkable performance which will no doubt receive accolades, and rightly so. But after a scintillating opening stanza, Lelio’s film loses steam in its second half.

  • A remarkable level of perceptiveness distinguishes most of the script, particularly the dialogues... Lelio’s approach is not without faux pas, however. Particularly problematic are several instances that encourage the viewer to guess whether Marina has transitioned or not.

  • Seems to me a few critics are going a little overboard in their enthusiasm for A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio’s undeniably solid followup to Gloria (2013)... The pace of A Fantastic Woman is not slow, but it is deliberate, as if Marina were on a long march toward reconciliation with her new life without Orlando. Also, I’m no expert by any means, but from the opening credits through to the final performance, I was enthralled by the score and the sound mix overall.

  • Lelio . . . seems less assured in terms of genre, tone, and character development. A Fantastic Woman is, above all, very careful: Marina’s antagonists seldom come off as sheer monsters, while Marina herself is treated with such reverence that she winds up remaining something of a cypher for the film’s duration.

  • These images mean next to nothing if the film itself has no interest in exploring anything other than the superficial aspects of living life as a trans person. A Fantastic Woman repeatedly fails in this regard, focusing on escalating melodrama wherein transphobia becomes more outrageous by the minute, nearly to the point of losing all meaning.

  • There's something rotten at the heart of A Fantastic Woman, and it has to do with a kind of double-identification the film allows for its audience. We are essentially let off the hook for transphobia, because the outward premises of the film are about Marina, her resilience, and the unfair way the world treats her. We are essentially ratified by the film as being progressive enough to "accept" her. How broad-minded of "us."

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