“A Fantastic Woman”
Sebastian Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” was underpinned by a dazzling performance from breakout star Daniela Vega. She plays Marina, a trans woman mourning the death of her older lover in Santiago — a process complicated by the deceased’s ex-wife and children, who are out to persecute her. The film lays bare the stigmas faced by Chile’s trans community, but stills manages to be joyous, thanks largely to our no-holds-barred protagonist. Whether she’s stomping on car roofs or laying down moves on the dance floor, we’re more than happy to go along for the ride.
Writer-director Ziad Doueiri uses a Beirut courtroom to examine old wounds that haven’t healed in “The Insult,” Lebanon’s first foreign language nomination. Lebanese Christian Tony (Adel Karam) takes offense at a slur from Palestinian foreman Yasser (Kamel El Basha), resulting in a civil suit which escalates beyond their control, hijacked by lawyers with ulterior motives and whipped into a frenzy by a hysterical press. Dredged up are the Lebanese Civil War and the country’s complicated relationship with Palestinian refugees. It will be an education for many and a painful reminder for some. But most of all, it suggests beyond enmity, there’s always room for common ground.
“On Body and Soul”
A love story set in an abattoir might sound odd, but then Oscar frontrunner “The Shape of Water” is about a mute cleaner falling for an Amazonian fish man. Sometimes it’s best to watch with an open mind. Hungarian writer-director Ildiko Enyedi shares none of the tender flourishes of Guillermo del Toro, opting for pools of blood and wipe-clean tiles as the backdrop for her off-kilter romance. Maria (Alexandra Borbely) and Endre (Geza Morcsanyi) oversee the slaughter of cattle by day, and by night share dreams of running wild as deer — literally.
The unconscious become a space into which they pour their nascent feelings, though expressing them to one another is a different matter. When words falter, Laura Marling’s “What He Wrote” stands in as a leitmotif, the lyrics a poignant reminder of love’s sometimes painful pull. Minimalist, but no less affecting.
SOURCE: (CNN) | Contributor: Thomas Page