I find myself coming down on a side somewhat opposing those who seem to have found this movie transcendent in some way. It’s the tale of a trans woman and the tailspin her life is thrown into when her much older lover dies suddenly. She finds herself interacting again with the man’s family and things don’t go particularly well, as you might expect, since Marina, our main character, essentially has no legal rights in the situation and her lover’s family, led by his ex-wife, are not inclined to be gracious to her. The film is an emotional drama separated from a ton of others mainly by the main character being a trans woman and played, as is only right, by a trans actress. Beyond that it’s not much more than average. I did kind of wish that I hadn’t known that Marina was a trans character being played by a trans performer because I honestly think I wouldn’t have known and the opening section, which finds Marina behaving very suspiciously surrounding her relationship with her lover, almost functions as a mystery of sorts if you don’t already know what’s driving her behavior. Lelio has a good eye as a director and he crafts some really interesting shots, particularly a really beautiful one late in the film involving a mirror. But I don’t really understand the high praise Daniela Vega received for her performance as Marina. This is only her second film and, while I haven’t seen her first, I found her performance to be pretty uninteresting. Given the title of the film, it would be nice to see a really beautiful performance, something really multilayered and complex, but if I had to sum up Vega’s performance in one word it would be “shallow.” It’s just a blank performance, but not blank in an effecting minimalist way, where you sense the depths of emotion beneath the surface, just blank as in there not being anything there and the performer kind of struggling to get where she does manage to get. The film still isn’t bad. The script makes its points well and some of the humiliations visited on Marina are still painful to watch, even if Vega’s performance is weak. And Aline Kuppenheim was, I thought, particularly good as Orlando’s bitter ex-wife; she’s vicious, but it’s easy to understand her bitterness, even as she lashes out in cruel ways. For a lot of reasons, this is a good movie. If it fails to be as fantastic as its fans say it is, well, that’s too bad. It would be nice to love this movie, but I guess I’ll settle for respecting it. 3 stars.
tl;dr – not the transcendent masterpiece its fans would have you believe, mostly because of a weak central performance; still, it’s a respectable and often effective film. 3 stars.