Dir: Sebastián Lelio | Chile / USA / Germany / Spain | Spanish | Drama | 104 min · Colour
A story of love and loss is a wrapped around a tightly-scripted portrait of transgender alienation in Sebastian Lelio’s fifth feature and Berlinale hopeful. He won the Golden Bear in 2012 with Gloria.
Suave middle class business man Orlando (Francisco Reyes) has left his attractive wife for a strong-jawed woman 20 years his junior. Marina (Daniela Vega) is a talented singer and also transgender. After a romantic birthday celebration together the two return home where Orlando is taken ill and dies on the way to hospital.
This is naturally a terrible shock for Marina but nothing compared with what is to come in the aftermath to the tragedy. The family are clearly threatened by Marina’s sexual identity and the way Orlando abandoned them. Soon she is under police scrutiny and vilified by all his family who want her out of his home and his funeral tribute.
Daniela Vega gives an impressive central performance venting powerful expression to the full emotional spectrum experienced by the newly bereaved, as well as humiliation in the treatment that follows. Marina is not a particularly likeable character – the strong and convincing support cast even less so – but she expresses dignity and forbearance given the circumstances and the acts of cruelty that follow.
This is a watchable and intriguing drama where once again Lelio displays a natural understanding for female characters who are at odds with mainstream society in contemporary Chile.
Santiago provides a lush backdrop to the action and the musical choices suffuse the film with a melancholy that permeates through to the final resonating scene. MT
BERLINALE 9-19 FEBRUARY | IN COMPETITION