A Fantastic Woman

Rated 4.0

Chilean director Sebastián Leilo co-wrote and directed this dreamy and deliberate Oscar winner about Santiago songbird Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgender woman reeling from the unexpected death of her much-older boyfriend Orlando. Without allies in his family or in the government, Marina gets put through the ringer of a humiliating and dehumanizing police investigation, while Orlando’s wife and son seize his possessions and shut Marina out of the official grieving process. Meanwhile, oblique visions of Orlando’s ghost and the discovery of a mysterious key seem to lead Marina toward a hidden treasure, or at least an emotional breakthrough. There is some narrative and thematic overlap between A Fantastic Woman and Tom Ford’s A Single Man, but Leilo’s film is warm and contemplative rather than cold and clinical, with light doses of magical realism and a marvelous lead performance from Vega (although Leilo makes it all too easy by turning Orlando’s family into violent, dog-napping psychopaths).