Sebastián Lelio’s 2017 film Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) uses the tenets and power of narrative film to pave the way for the sociocultural recognition and acceptance of trans people. By engaging us with the protagonist’s desire and inscribing us in the spaces she occupies, the film generates an affect of revolt when she is denied access to public spaces. Moreover, Lelio’s film suggests that the trans subject can set itself free from the Other’s grip in the social, cultural and psychoanalytic (singular) spheres by dismantling gender categories. The film expresses this notion by engaging us with its protagonist’s journey, who undergoes a transition from what Jacques Lacan refers to as the “phallic” position to what he terms the “feminine” one. In the former position, which is governed by categories (Man, Woman, etc.), norms and rules, the subject, a fantasy object, situates its gaze in the Other as the cause of its desire; in the latter, which transcends any preordained categories, the cause of the subject’s desire is its drive, and the gaze is located in the subject’s own body.
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- feminine/phallic enjoyment
- narrative film
- the gaze