A FANTASTIC WOMAN is s timely Chilean movie that revolves around a transsexual character starring a transsexual actor. It is a heartfelt film that is the submission from Chile for this year’s Academy Awards. This multiple festival award winning film is the second highest rated movie from Kernel Emma. It releases this Thursday 22nd February in Australia. It’s rated M and runs for 104mins. Enjoy Emma’s thoughts on A FANTASTIC WOMAN…….all the best……Salty.


A Fantastic Woman Daniela Vega image
Daniela Vega



There are many fantastic women in this world, and transgender actress Daniela Vega is definitely one of them. In A FANTASTIC WOMAN, directed by Sebastián Lelio, the incredibly talented actress shines in her role as a transgender woman grieving the death of her lover. Drawing from many of her own experiences as a trans woman growing up in Chile, Daniela Vega delivers an authentic and touching performance, and the film is no exception. A FANTASTIC WOMAN is a striking, confronting and powerful story about the sheer resilience transgender and non-binary people show every day. It’s stunning, surreal scenes are interspersed with confronting conversational scenes to tell a genuine story of romantic love. While the film does not shy away from showcasing discrimination and prejudice, it ultimately presents an authentic, likeable character who is incredibly tough in the face of shocking adversity.


A Fantastic Woman Luis Gnecco and Nicolás Saavedra image
Luis Gnecco and Nicolás Saavedra



Marina and Orlando are two consenting adults who are in love. We are introduced to the couple in a bar, as Orlando looks longing at sensual singer Marina while she performs on stage. We observe the pair as they celebrate Marina’s birthday and the chemistry between them is undeniable. At 20 years her senior, Orlando is an unconventional partner for Marina and Marina an unconventional partner for Orlando. At least, that’s what his family thinks.

It is very early on in A FANASTIC WOMAN when tragedy strikes. Orlando has an unexpected brain aneurism and the doctors can do nothing to save him. Shocked and heartbroken, Marina is forced to mourn alone. She’s excluded from funeral preparations, roughed up by the male members of Orlando’s family and asked a range of ridiculous, unnecessary questions by everyone she meets. But Orlando’s family aren’t the only ones with a problem. Marina is visited at work by a detective named Adriana (Amparo Noguera) from the Sexual Offences Unit, where she is rigorously questioned about the nature of her relationship with Orlando. Was she being paid? Was the relationship consensual? Is there anything she wants to share in private?

These questions lead to a humiliating physical examination; one which she never asked for, nor needs. Sebastián Lelio does an incredible job of shaping a character who is tough and resilient, but also vulnerable and human. Similarly, Daniela Vega does a phenomenal job of bringing this character to life in an authentic, sensitive way.


A Fantastic Woman Daniela Vega image
Daniela Vega



Space plays an interesting role in A FANTASTIC WOMAN. We are first made aware of this in a local sauna. We first visit the sauna as Orlando lies face down in the mysterious, dimly lit room – almost looking as though he is dead. When Marina returns to the space in search of answers after his death, the first thing she asks is if men and women have their own spaces. Stripped down to just a towel, Marina slowly walks from the female section to the male, blurring the boundaries of gender with every step. Another important space in A FANTASTIC WOMAN is the police station, where she is forced to participate in a humiliating physical examination. Typically regarded as a safe space, the police station presents an uncomfortable and incredibly demeaning scene; one where the very people who are supposed to protect her make Marina feel scared and violated.

It feels as though no space is safe for a trans person. But in a necessary contrast, spaces connected to music breathe life into Marina’s character. These scenes are vibrant, free and sexual; themes too often unexplored by films with trans characters. Marina is sensual and expressive as she dances in a gay bar; she’s quiet and reflected while humming to herself in moments of stress; and in the film’s final scene, she is confident and feminine as she performs a song on stage. The exploration of this side of her character is essential to the film’s powerful narrative, providing a moving, uplifting contrast to its more serious scenes.


A Fantastic Woman Daniela Vega image
Daniela Vega



A FANTASTIC WOMAN is a really important film. It’s important because it features a trans character. It’s important because it features a trans actor. But it’s most important because of the story it tells. Too often films present trans and non-binary people as villains or victims. A FANTASTIC WOMAN tells an everyday story. It’s grounded and subtle, yet incredibly powerful. The film is about identity, self-realisation and acceptance. It presents incredibly important, timely themes and a striking story that’s absolutely enough to make this Oscar nominated film worthy of a watch – and a win.





Kernel Emma is documentary mad and also loves foreign and films ! She is Salty’s honorary NooooZealanderrrr writer, but she hides out in Sydney saying sex, fush and chups to everyone’s amusement.

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.