Sebastian Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman, fresh off its Oscar win for Best Foreign Language Film, is finally headed to home video. Centered on a young trans woman who must cope with the loss of her partner — and the loss of the life as she knew it once his ex-wife and son begin taking everything back from her, barely acknowledging her presence — Lelio’s sensitive drama is a celebration of the resilience of its protagonist, Marina Vidal. In his own words, “It’s a trans-genre film about a transgender character.” He was eager to make a movie that couldn’t be boxed in, and so he borrows elements from thrillers, ghost films, and even, as it titles suggests, from fantasy. This is a Santiago-set production that treats its city as the site where classical film genres can take over at any moment.
Blending Busby Berkeley-like musical numbers (including a neon-tinged nightclub scene that plays like a disco music video) with gritty women’s melodrama (it is a movie about grief after all), Lelio’s trans-focused drama soars because of its main actress. Daniela Vega, who helped the Chilean director develop the script over the years and who eventually accepted the leading role, gives the movie the gravitas it needs to succeed — and it’s what’s made it such a great activist tool. It may follow Marina as she deals with prejudice and discrimination but it’s more interested in asking questions than in offering any possible answers. As Vega told Remezcla, the film is ultimately “a character study that investigates what we do with empathy, what we do with love, which bodies we can live in and which bodies we cannot, which kinds of love can be conquered and which cannot.” To watch it is to further understand women like Marina and the many trials and tribulations they deal with on a daily basis. Check out the rest of our interview with Daniela Vega in the video above.
A Fantastic Woman debuts May 22, 2018 on Blu-ray and digital platforms (including Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes.)