Chilean director Sebastian Delio has an abiding empathy for women in situations of turmoil and marginalization. His prior film, Gloria, was a touching meditation on a 58-year-old divorced woman’s desire to find a place in the world as a vibrant, romantic sexual being though the culture repeatedly warns her to remain invisible.

In his new film, A Fantastic Woman, Delio again visits a marginalized woman. In this case, it is Marina (Daniela Vega), who finds herself thrust out of the way when her older lover Orlando unexpectedly dies. Marina is trans (as is the actress Vega who plays her so movingly), and she is immediately omitted, questioned, judged, even investigated. She wants only to grieve her partner, and society wants her to disappear.

Without being preachy, Delio manages to bring a political and social issue into great focus and human perspective, by telling the stories of people instead of taking an abstract position. He finds the humanity in Marina, and by extension, in all of us.

Playing at Theatre N in March: Catch up on Oscar nominees. Darkest Hour and Call Me By Your Name (March 2-4); Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (March 9-11); The Shape of Water and Phantom Thread (March 16-18).

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed films for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Mark also has written on the movies for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark has been an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University since 1998. A career arts administrator, he is the executive director of Wilmington’s Grand Opera House and now lives on Market Street. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.