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'Gloria' Movie Review

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One of the best aspects of director Sebastian Lelio’s film ‘Gloria’ is that it was made in Santiago, Chile instead of Hollywood. The American version would certainly have turned it into a wacky goofball comedy or a tragic melodrama. Thanks to actress Paulina Garcia’s award-winning performance (she won Best Actress at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival); we get to enjoy a balanced portrait of a divorced woman dealing with the challenges of mid-life. That’s the beauty of this film. We don’t live in a perfect world and neither does Gloria. As Laura Branigan sings in her 1982 hit song “Gloria, you’re always on the run now, running after somebody, you gotta get him somehow.”

Gloria is a “woman of a certain age.” It isn’t necessary to know the exact chronological number. As the story opens, we see our heroine at a nightclub. She’s at the age where she knows what she wants and doesn’t waste time playing games in getting it. She is on the prowl for a man. “Are you always this happy?” asks Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez) to Gloria. She answers him with candor as she stares back with her “Tootsie” style glasses, “No, sometimes in the morning I’m sad and in the afternoon too.” The scene grabs you. Although Gloria is lonely; she gives off an air of dignity and never begs for our pity. Her life isn’t perfect. She works a boring office job. She has a cramped apartment where a hairless cat keeps sneaking through an open window. She sometimes smokes and drinks too much. Nevertheless, there is something delightful about her optimism on the next chapter in her life. “We’re all surprised by the twists and turns of life,” she confesses.

Nobody ever said dating is easy at any age. As Lelio shows, it gets even more complicated when Rodolfo and Gloria begin dating. Rodolfo is a former naval officer who is recently divorced. He’s a bit older than her but the attraction between them is undeniable. There is a bedroom scene that conveys their passion without the use of body doubles. There is only one problem. Rodolfo has baggage. Although divorced, he still financially supports his ex-wife and two needy daughters. At first, Gloria ignores the warning signs when his cell phone rings at a romantic dinner together. When she invites him to a family get-together, she realizes how unhealthy the codependency actually is and its threat to their budding relationship.

That’s the story in a nutshell. Will the relationship between these two divorcees thrive? Rodolfo doesn’t want to tell his daughters that he has a girlfriend. It makes Gloria feel uneasy. She has taken care of her kids her entire life but they are not as needy as Rodolfo’s. Over the course of the film, we see Gloria’s son dealing with single parenthood, an encounter with her ex-husband with a younger wife at a party and her pregnant daughter moving to Sweden to live with her ski bum boyfriend. How does Gloria handle it? She sings romantic songs in her car and still enjoys going out dancing. The cool thing about Gloria is that she never feels sorry for herself. She’s a cougar that still enjoys a good romp on a sandy beach. It’s an honest and moving performance by Garcia.

If you’re looking for a sugarcoated Hollywood romance, this film might not be your cup of tea. However, if you want to see a woman fearlessly taking on the next chapter in her life, 'Gloria' is an endearing slice of cinema. Check out the official trailer