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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Marina is transgender and, for once, the actress playing the character is, in reality, transgender. She is involved in a close and intimate relationship with Orlando, a 57-year-old businessman, and is living with him in his apartment in downtown Santiago. It’s Marina’s birthday and Orlando is planning to take her on a trip to the Iguazu Falls, the spectacular tourist destination on the border between Brazil and Argentina. After a birthday dinner in a Chinese restaurant they go home to bed, but during the night Orlando awakens feeling ill. While Marina is trying to summon the lift, he falls down a flight of stairs. In hospital, Orlando is pronounced dead.
The film explores the ways in which this “fantastic” woman deals with the death of her lover and the reactions of members of his family. Under the best of circumstances, it wouldn’t be surprising for long-held bitterness and anger to boil over at a time like this, but matters are exacerbated by Marina’s sexual status.
Orlando’s ex-wife, Sonia, is fiercely angry; she demands the return of Orlando’s car and orders Marina to vacate the apartment. More than that, she reports her to the police’s sexual offences unit and Marina finds herself being investigated by Adriana, an openly hostile policewoman, who makes humiliating demands on the “suspect”. While coping with these invasions into her personal life, and finding that her access to the wake and the funeral of her dead lover are barred, Marina attempts to move on.
Lelio is a fine director and he handles this tragic story with tenderness and insight, and also with a firm control over the film’s superb visuals.