Once again, it’s early in the year and the pickins are a little slim at movie theaters in general – if you’re not catching up on end-of-the-year prestige releases (though seriously, who could blame you if you were), there’s not much besides Black Panther to get all that worked up about. But there are a few little gems among this month’s art-house slate, and we’ve gone to the trouble of plucking them out and polishing them up for you. You’re welcome.
A Fantastic Woman
RELEASE DATE: February 2
DIRECTOR: Sebastián Lelio
CAST: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco
Gloria director Lelio helms this meticulously crafted character study about a trans woman (the remarkable Ms. Vega) whose live-in love passes away, only to find herself shut out of his memorial and funeral by his bitter family. “I have the right to say goodbye to him too,” she insists, and Leilo merely spends those days with her, observing her sadness and frustration as she tries to come to terms with a loss she’s not being allowed to grieve. Vega’s leading performance is potent, a heady mixture of pain, regret, and power, while Leilo’s script explores issues of prejudice and gender fluidity with both sensitivity and humor (that “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” needle drop). He comes up with an endearing portrait – a movie that clearly both loves and values its heroine.