A Fantastic Woman

Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio found an international audience with Gloria (2013), which gave Paulina García the role of a lifetime as a tough, impetuous, lonely divorcee; this follow-up (2017), starring Daniela Vega as a trans woman coming out of the shadows, cements Lelio’s reputation as a filmmaker who—like George Cukor or Pedro Almodóvar—knows how to treat a lady. Vega is mesmerizing as the protagonist, a young nightclub singer having an affair with a married, middle-aged businessman. After he dies of an aneurysm during one of their trysts, she insists on grieving publicly with the family despite their contempt and mounting abuse. In one frightening scene, a few of the men ambush her and wind plastic tape around her head, pulling her smoky features into an awful mask; their level of hatred is striking, but so is her dignity and proud forbearance. In Spanish with subtitles.