The Films of Sebastián Lelio
The Sacred Family
The Year of the Tiger
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A Fantastic Woman (February 6/18)
Directed by Sebastián Lelio, A Fantastic Woman follows Daniela Vega's Marina Vidal as she undergoes a series of challenges and humiliations after the death of her much older boyfriend (Francisco Reyes' Orlando). Filmmaker Lelio, along with cowriter Gonzalo Maza, delivers a subdued character study that is, for the most part, held aloft by Vega's transfixing, thoroughly accomplished turn as the sympathetic central character, with Vega's impressively strong work compensating for a narrative that's often just a little too lackadaisical for its own good. (This is particularly noticeable within the movie's occasionally repetitive midsection, as much of this portion of the proceedings details the discrimination faced by Marina on a day-to-day basis.) The viewer does, as a result, begin to wonder if there's a bigger picture at work here, although such concerns admittedly become rather moot as A Fantastic Woman progresses into its progressively compelling second half - with Vega's protagonist taken into somewhat heartbreaking territory that's far more compelling than one might've anticipated. The end result is an erratic yet ultimately rewarding drama that heralds the arrival of a major new talent in Vega, with the film itself, though consistently watchable, never quite able to make it up to the hypnotic level of its breakout star.