‘A Fantastic Woman’: Living, loving boldly without remorse



Wed, 22 Aug 2018 - 09:47 GMT


Wed, 22 Aug 2018 - 09:47 GMT

A Fantastic Woman movie cover - Photo courtesy of A Fantastic Woman Facebook page

A Fantastic Woman movie cover - Photo courtesy of A Fantastic Woman Facebook page

CAIRO – 22 August 2018: Women in love are often trivialized and denigrated by human beings regardless of their beliefs or races, whether Middle Easterners, Arabs or even Europeans.

Intermittently, certain social standards may subdue the concept of a “loving woman” for numerous reasons; most of these reasons could be identified as “baseless”, or as mere results of a blind “collective consciousness”.

While watching Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman, I just could not take Barbra Streisand's masterpiece “Women in Love” out of my mind, as I kept thinking about the reminiscence between the two of them, from the beginning to the ending scene.

To be honest, I did not read a lot about the movie before watching it, I just saw the trailer, got a general idea and decided to go for it; however, when the movie started, I wondered about Marina Vidal’s nature, the story's main character played by Chilean Daniela Vega, a waitress and nightclub singer with operatic aspirations.

It did not take me long to realize that that the movie is about a self-asserting and defiant transgender woman who fights to feel accepted as a “woman” who has the right to love and be loved.

The movie is obviously defending the concept of “love of all kinds” while projecting the movie’s case, the love of a transgender woman; it sheds the light on racism and hatred that control some people's consciences and judgements against whomever is being observed as “different" to what they want or wish to accept.

The nearly two-hour movie starts with 27-year-old Marina singing in a nightclub where here love partner Orlando (Francisco Reyes) shows for dinner before getting back to his apartment, which she was about to move into, for an intimate birthday celebration.

But later that night, Orlando collapses, as he started to show symptoms for aneurysm, and immediately Marina determined to admit him to a hospital but unfortunately he loses his balance and tumbles down a flight of stairs, getting several brusies over his body and a cut in the head as a kick off to Marina’s true struggle. And just like that, Marina loses the love of her life.

Losing Orlando was not but the beginning of Marina’s tragedy; it was just the beginning of a long tragic experience of hatred. Minutes after her partner’s death, the hospital's doctor who diagnosed Orlando’s medical status started questioning Marina about what they were doing before the fall, and then rudely started asking other questions referring to her gender.

“What’s your name?” The doctor asks. “Marina,” she answers. “Well, it must be a fake one, right?” The doctor addresses Marina, affirming more than asking. Moreover, she was not recognized by the hospital as an immediate family member.

Later, Marina finds out that Orlando’s family, his son and ex-wife, does not want her to be involved in the funeral, stripping her of the right to bid him farewell. She was treated as if she was a source of shame that must be kept hidden and later forgotten, as if it had never happened.

No one accepted that their relation was a “healthy, consensual relationship between two adults,” as it was stated by Marina herself when the police investigator asked her about whether her relationship with Orlando was just sexual and if he was paying her.

“So when he came and explained to me I thought… sorry if it's crude and blunt of me to say this but I really think that this is just perversion,” The ex-wife told Marina during their first meeting as she opened up about her relation with Orlando. “Sorry, but... When I look at you, I don't know what I'm seeing.”

Adding insult to injury, the bruises over Orlando’s body subjected her to suspicions by his family and the police for foul play; she was treated as a potential suspect of a crime she did not do.

In the thick of all of these events, I realized something I found a bizarre and overwhelming; Marina’s confidence and defiance made me see Orlando's family as ‘the minority group’ in this situation. She had an open personality and was never ashamed of her nature.

As I was watching, I thought that, in reality, the majority would accept Marina and Orlando’s relationship, except for these minority groups. This might be something that the moviemakers intended to tell us, I guess.

Comparing Marina's attitude and behavior to Orlando's son and ex-wife made me come up with one result; to them, It was never about love, as it was never about respecting the memory of their loved ones, but mostly about selfishly wanting to seize all the love for themselves as they want it to be.

They wanted to remember how Orlando was as a father and ex-husband in their own way, not the way he chose to live many years ago. They disrespected the woman he loved, kidnapped her dog, kicked her out of Orlando’s apartment and kicked her out of his funeral.

Many of the movie scenes included various allegories that reflected Marina's character directly and clearly, including when Marina got windswept as she was walking along the street, but eventually manages to stand still and not fall.

A Fantastic Woman protagonist Marina Vidal - Screenshot of the movie released in 2017

By the movie's final scene, when Marina appeared singing a very dulcet melody on a stage with deep confidence and grief, all of the thoughts that overwhelmed me about her character in the beginning of the movie were all gone as I believed she was a complete, loving , stubborn and fantastic woman. I had no doubts or questions.

The Chilean drama won many awards including the Silver Bear for best screenplay in February 2017 during the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. In this round of the festival, the world got to meet Daniela Vega for the first time as a revolutionary transgender actress who managed to perform her first role in a movie about a transgender woman. This maybe added to the leading character with a lot of undeniable emotions throughout the movie.

A Fantastic Woman opened my eyes wide to many things I did not get the chance to realize earlier; as a Middle-Eastern girl, I was born and raised among several customs and traditions of which I did not like or embrace. I saw cases of transgender people suffering from social defamation and lack of acceptance. However, after watching the movie I thought that it might not only be about a sole culture or society; but about some people’s unfortunate nature of being judgmental or – sometimes – behaviorally superior.

A Fantastic Woman movie cover - Photo courtesy of A Fantastic Woman Facebook page



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