Sebastián Lelio’s 5th feature, the Oscar nominated (Best Foreign Language Film) Una Mujer Fantástica/ A fantastic Woman, won Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear for best screenplay (shared with usual collaborator, screenwriter Gonzalo Maza). It stars new comer Daniela Vega and Francisco Reyes (El Club, Neruda). It benefited from the support of an international group of previous Oscar nominated producers including compatriot director Pablo Larrain (Jackie, No, Neruda) and German director Maren Ade (Toni Erdman). Lelio’s career is going well. His English speaking film, Disobedience, is due on US screens next April, followed by a Julian Moore starred remake of his own Gloria (2013).
Telling about A fantastic Woman without spoiling it is quite a task. If the reader has been looking for details about it in medias it may already be spoiled. We shall mention briefly that it tells of a young waitress in Santiago, Marina, who’s in a relationship with a much older man. His sudden death exposes aspect of their relationship for which there is more ‘unconventional’ aspects than just age differences that profoundly bothers the society they were born in.
A fantastic Woman slowly depicts the abuse by a society as it is challenged in its belief, right to its core, by differences. Variance, divergence is an enemy to obliterate. Violence is lurking, ready to burst. The Lelio-Maza tandem avoid being gratuitous, their editing choices is about respect and dignity without denying to make us fully feel this violence. They show a plagued society with strong ancient patriarchal ways, resisting a brand new world leaning to florish.
Through a main character that never gives up, Leilo’s film scrutinizes a society in which everyone is constantly worried about how others perceive them, with everyone hardheaded and resisting changes, new perspectives or the breaking of traditions.
A fantastic Woman is an effective and universal contemporary drama