A Fantastic Woman (Una Mujer Fantástica)

18/10/2018 19:45.
Cert 15

Following his hugely successful Gloria, Lelio now makes a sensitive contribution to the debate about the rights of transgender people. Singer and restaurant worker Marina shares an apartment with her lover, Orlando and they lead a happy and contented life. With his sudden death Marina’s life is thrown into chaos. Her gender and her marital status are challenged by the hospital, the police, and Orlando’s family. She is excluded from Orlando’s funeral, and his ex-wife and son seek to evict her from her home. But throughout the film Marina is always represented with dignity.

“It may be a timely film, but it is its timelessness, as well as its depths of compassion, that qualify it as a great one” Ryan Gilbey, theguardian.com.   We screened Lelio’s Gloria in 2014.

Dir: Sebastián Lelio 100mins  Ch/Ge/Sp/US 2016

Programme Notes



In this his fifth film, Chilean director Sebastian Lelio, with characteristic great sensitivity, style and verve, tells the story of a transgender woman. Marina, a singer and restaurant worker is in a contented relationship with an older man, divorcee Orlando. They share an apartment and enjoy life together in Santiago, an ostensibly liberal-minded city environment. Following an evening out together to celebrate a birthday, Orlando suddenly suffers an aortic aneurism on returning to their apartment and is rushed to hospital, where he later dies. This marks the beginning of Marina’s travails as she becomes marginalised by hospital, police and Orlando’s family. This is a truly thought-provoking film where viewers may find themselves re-evaluating their own ideas on the transgender debate. Daniela Vega as Marina gives a luminous, dignified and beautiful portrayal, highlighting many of the issues faced by the transgender community, and the ostracism it often encounters. Daniela Vega Hernandez, herself transgender and an LGBT activist, was originally approached by Lelio, not to play the part of Marina but as consultant contributor to the research he was carrying out on the transgender Chilean community. Daniela shared many personal experiences with him and, as a result of the bond that developed between them, Lelio entrusted her with the role. In 2017, Vega Hernandez was the first transgender winner of the Fenix Award, set up by Cinema 23 to recognise the work of film-makers in Latin America, Spain and Portugal. The film itself won the 2018 Best Foreign Language Oscar
Acknowledgements: Anon, IMDb.

“Psychologically astute and socially aware as the film is, it is also infused with mystery and melodrama, with bright colors and emotional shadows. Almodóvarian and Buñuelian grace-notes adorn its matter-of-fact melody, and its surface modesty camouflages an unruly, extravagant spirit. You may not realize until the very end that you have been gazing at the portrait of an artist in the throes of self-creation”          A. O. Scott, New York Times.

Leading Players
Daniela Vega Hernandez
Francisco Reyes
Luis Gnecco
Aline Kuppenheim
Nicolas Saavedra
Marina Vidal
Production Credits


Original Music
Sebastian Lelio
Pablo Larrain, Juan Dios Larrain et al
Sebastian Lelio, Gonzalo Maza
Benjamin Echazarreta
Nani Garcia, Matthew Herbert



  • Excellent – the sort of film one expects from ABCD FS!
  • Very strong film
  • Very high quality film – terrific approach to a complicated issue. Great music at the end
  • Much food for thought – I really liked it!
  • From its elegant cinematography to its [enlightened] approach to gender politics, this was a  fantastic film from start to finish. Please can we have more from this director and/or from South  America!
  • Marina was very sympathetic character. Beautiful photography and music but I found the last  20mins hard to follow
  • Much better than I thought it would be
  • Human beings – who’d have ’em!
  • A strange movie ….
  • Some of it went on a bit and some seemed a bit contrived
  • So what did he/she see in locker 181? Intriguing
  • Dust to dust
  • Perhaps my hearing isn’t what it was but I had difficulty hearing last week’s comments


A:12, B:9, C:4, D:1, E:0 to give 81% from 93% of those present.