Mexico has already made an indelible mark on a generation of Hollywood filmmaking, but it looks like the land of the Three Amigos won’t be the last Latin American industry to invade Tinseltown from down south. Indeed, just after Cannes’ favorite Chileno Pablo Larraín made his Hollywood debut with 2016’s Jackie, it seems Larraín’s countryman and collaborator Sebastián Lelio is right behind him with the upcoming Disobedience, currently shooting in London with Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams.
But before the director of 2013’s Silver Bear-winning Gloria completes his transition to the Hollywood dream factory, it appears he has left us one last Spanish-language gem in the form of the upcoming feature Una mujer fantástica. Continuing with the general thematic universe he explored in Gloria, Lelio’s latest turns its attention to the struggles of a trans woman who is subjected to scorn and abuse by the family of her older partner after his sudden death.
Showcasing a subtle visual style that revels in atmosphere, color, and evocative reflections, Lelio’s latest suggests a level of expressive sophistication that truly places among the ranks of contemporary master directors. Yet, by taking on this urgent subject matter as a matter-of-fact human drama, Lelio is also making a powerful political statement. As Lelio himself muses in his director’s notes: “What will the viewers see when they see Marina? A woman, a man, or the sum of both?”
His answer makes it clear he’s more interested in our shared humanity than arbitrary binaries: “They will see a human being, a vortex that attracts the viewer’s fantasy and desire, inviting them to explore the limits of their own empathy.”
Una Mujer Fantástica premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival and will open in Chilean theaters on April 6th.
Una mujer fantástica is playing at the 2017 Los Cabos Film Festival.