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TIFF 2017: “A Fantastic Woman” (2017) ★★★★★


What does it mean to be La Mujera Una Fantastica or just a Fantastic Woman? Do you have to be born one? Or maybe become one afterwards? What about the heart and soul that dictates you otherwise? Whatever it is, all these questions will come to your mind during the preview of Sebastian Lelio’s A FANTASTIC WOMAN who through the harshness of circumstances will have to stand for herself and defend her love for a man that she loved but is no longer around to fight back along with her.

You don’t, and really don’t have to know much as you start watching Lelio’s masterpiece. The majestic look of Iguaza Falls and then  Finlandia Sauna where Orlando prepares himself for a big night. The night he is about to celebrate the birthday of his beloved woman, Marina Vidal. He prepares a gift for her, invites her to a Japanese restaurant to celebrate her birthday, tenderly makes love to her at night, but hours later he passes away. Yup, just like that. When Marina brings him to the hospital quickly, she introduces herself with the name we already know, while her identification ID seems to state another name. The name we soon learn is Daniel, a man who changed himself to become one of the most fantastic, strong and fearless woman to ever grace the silver screen.

As soon as Orlando passes away, Gabo, his brother, Bruno, his son, and even Sonia, his wife starts demanding his belongings from Marina. None of them, except Gabo bothers to remember her name. But at some point they will have to face the fact – there were reasons why Orlando fell for Marina, and the same reason will be given to you to fall for her as well. Because there is no other way but endlessly admire someone whose path is not as easy as everyone else’s, but does it as flawlessly as it could get because of her natural strength we will soon learn.

Daniela Viga is an outstanding Chilean actress whose portrayal of Marina is mind-blowing, the least I could tell. The structure of her bone, face and even body allowed her to transform herself into two characters in one without any make up. It’s almost like she was dropping one skin to wear another one, but still soulfully remained the same. The lighting, direction and even camera work enables her to fascinate you with her performance, showing that, a subtle approach for an actor is crucial to have Marina the way we see her on the screen. And that is one of the most unforgettable journeys without Sebastian Lelio we would not have been able to experience.

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