The 2017 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, A Fantastic Woman, is an engrossing character study revolving around the life and losses of the transgender woman of the film’s title. The Chilean film is more evidence that some things are the same no matter what part of the world from which you hail, and that discrimination is truly universal.

The real life transgender actress and soprano Daniela Vega gives a powerhouse performance as Marina, who works as a waitress by day and a lounge singer by night. Marina and her much older (by twenty years) boyfriend, Orlando are in love and planning for what comes next in their relationship. Orlando, celebrating Marina’s birthday one evening, falls victim to an aneurism. And this is where Marina’s problems begin, sending the woman’s life into a direction she could never have predicted.

The film depicts the problems that ensue in the wake of Orlando’s death. Marina is kicked out of the couple’s apartment, left homeless and forbidden by Orlando’s family to even attend her lover’s funeral. When Orlando’s former wife tells Marina she doesn’t know what to make of her or what to call her, it’s a painful scene to watch.

The film is somewhat low-key and centers more on the problems Marina deals with in the wake of Orlando’s death than on her problems adjusting to life as a transgender. Still, it’s a powerful portrait of grief that offers many emotional rewards.

A Fantastic Woman is playing in Charlotte.
Image: Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman

Questions or comments? Write Adam at