There is something about nightclubs that appeals to filmmakers. The work of American directors like Martin Scorsese and James Gray is riddled with them. In 2017, the Cannes-storming AIDS activism drama BPM (Beats Per Minute) featured a group of friends who spent most nights in clubs; places where identities are subsumed in the dark but that are also communal, just like the movies.
Now we have the Chilean film A Fantastic Woman, one of five nominees for best foreign-language film at this year’s Academy Awards. It’s about a transgender nightclub singer, Marina (Daniela Vega). A pivotal scene has her leading a highly choreographed chorus line on the dance floor. Like BPM, the film cleverly weaves moments of dreamlike symbolism into what could otherwise be mistaken for a slice of life.