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Movie review: 'Gloria' shows the complications of love, at any age



Chile's submission for this year's Academy Awards was the beautiful Gloria (opening locally today), a film starring Paulina Garcia in the title role. She is a middle-aged woman dealing with the hardships of life and love, a woman who solidly could identify with the phrase "growing older, but not up."

2013 Roadside Attractions.

And Garcia as Gloria is mesmerizing throughout. We first meet the complicated woman in an energetic club as she approaches an older gentlemen on the dance floor whom she seems to know from the past. This outgoing version of Gloria is soon juxtaposed with her other "real" life self, a divorced mother of two grown children, whom is far less confident.

She perfectly represents a life that has seemingly strayed from its intended path. She is in a dead-end job and has little patience for the trouble of others. As an older - but not "old" - woman, she still doesn't view herself as such, desperately grasping at the straws of youthful exuberance. Like a cup with a hole in the bottom, she continues to pour herself out there, never feeling fulfilled but unwilling to call the glass half-empty.

Her blooming relationship with the guy from the club, Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), gives her hope but acts as a constant reminder that life only seems to become more complicated. His ex-wife and daughters interrupt their most sensual moments together with ill-timed cell phone calls and Gloria finds it increasingly challenging to dive head first into love, knowing from experience that she could be entering the shallow end.

But isn't that what love is? Taking those risks? The magic and beauty of Gloria, the film, is its ageless message of how tricky this thing we call love is to manage.

Gloria is a love-struck romantic, who is unwilling to let herself truly experience the benefits of falling in love, partially because she has had trouble in her past. Haven't we all? The film is a universal love story, intent on showing us the complexities of this real person without mushing things up or ever drawing attention to the idea that Gloria is an older woman.

Yes, she is getting old, but the emotions she reveals to us in this film are a universal truth, and therefore, are instantly recognizable and relatable.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Foreign

Run Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes, Rated R

Starring: Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez, Gonzalo Maza

Co-Written & Directed by Sabastian Lelio (Christmas, La sagrada familia, El ano del tigre)

Opens locally on Friday, Feb 7, 2014 (check for show times).

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How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"

  • 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
  • 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
  • 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
  • 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
  • 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time
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