Mary Woodward Review

A Fantastic Woman [Una Mujer Fantástica] Film, Brunton Theatre, Review:

A Fantastic Woman [Una Mujer Fantástica] Film.

(Shown as part of Pride Saltire History Month Programme)

***** 5 stars

A fantastic performance by Daniela Vega as Marina, whose partner Orlando dies after suddenly being taken ill during the night.  Marina is trying to grieve, to come to terms with her loss, and finds herself being treated by the police as if she is a criminal rather than a bereaved woman because, although she is presenting as female, her legal documents do not yet display her current name.

Orlando’s brother Gabo is initially sympathetic, but his ex-wife Sonia and son Bruno  have no sympathy for or understanding of Marina’s feelings and refuse to accept that she has any rights to stay in the flat she shared with Orlando, to have any of his things, to keep the dog he gave her or even to be present at Orlando’s wake and funeral.  Marina is harassed by the police, humiliated in public, and forced to have a medical examination, ostensibly to see whether she was in any way mistreated by her partner: she is insulted and violently attacked by members of Orlando’s family.  In all this, she comports herself with dignity and restraint, refusing to retaliate or treat them with anything but courtesy: it’s only when the crematorium attendants allow her to say goodbye to Orlando’s body that she allows herself to weep.

It’s all so familiar – but in my past it was same-sex partners who were treated with such contempt and cruelty.  Remember If these walls could talk 2? – the grieving widow who had to remove her belongings from the bedroom she’d shared with her partner and make the house look as though she had just been the lodger before enduring the visit from her partner’s family who gave her a week to get her things out of the house… No doubt there are people of all persuasions who are still treated with the inhumanity that makes my blood boil by self-righteous people who really believe they have the monopoly on Right and Wrong, Good and Bad.

The film is beautifully shot.  A haunting melody runs through the opening credits and reappears at various emotional points in the film.  There is some gorgeous baroque music, sung by Daniela Vega herself: sposa, son disprezzata in which a grieving widow sings of her desolation and ombra mai fu – Handel’s famous aria from his opera Xerxes, in which she celebrates the matchless qualities of the man she had lost.

Not a load of laughs, but oh what a thought-provoking piece.  I wish the audience had been as huge as for Bohemian Rhapsody last week – maybe there would be more hope of human beings learning to treat others, however different from themselves, with respect and kindness rather than scorn and cruelty.

A Fantastic Woman [Una Mujer Fantástica] Film. Shown as part of Pride Saltires History Month Season. 

review by Mary Woodward

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