Sunday, January 12, 2014

“Gloria” – Movie Review



This weekend, the bonus screenings for the Winter Term of my movie class began with the Chilean drama, “Gloria”, starring Paulina Garcia and directed by Sebastian Lelio.


When a long time divorcée finally decides to seek another romance, will she find it in the form of a man who mysteriously comes and goes in her life?


Endlessly cruising the singles bars of Santiago, Gloria (Garcia) is in search of love, having learned how to shed the emotional scars of her divorce over a decade ago.  A confident, fun-loving grandmother, she is certainly not shy when it comes to introducing herself to men who strike her fancy.  Before long, she notices Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), who has been holding her in his gaze for most of the evening.  After the routine introductions, they realize a mutual attraction has developed and so off they go to Gloria’s apartment. 

Spending an increasing amount of time together with this man who claims to have been divorced for only a year, Gloria decides that she wants him in her life to develop a serious relationship.  One obstacle is the fact that because he’s been divorced for just a short period of time, his wife is having difficulty handling the situation; additionally, his grown daughters are slackers and continue to be both emotionally and financially dependent on Rodolfo, a former Navy officer who now owns an amusement park where young men play war by shooting paintballs at each other. 

Bringing Rodolfo to a family reunion, Gloria is embarrassed when he departs without explanation.  Insulted, she dumps Rodolfo, but he persistently calls Gloria until she ultimately relents and decides to spend a weekend with him at a resort.  When Rodolfo disappears during dinner on their first night together, Gloria decides that she’s had it and will go on with the rest of her life without him, seeking the attention of other, more deserving men.  But when Rodolfo resurfaces yet again begging for forgiveness and understanding, will Gloria take him back or will she end the relationship once and for all? 


Conceivably, there are two ways in which “Gloria” may ruffle some feathers:  One is if you are uncomfortable with visual depictions of people over the age of 50 naked and having sex; another is if you get easily bored with so-called “slice-of-life” movies that don’t have a typical beginning-middle-end.  Since neither of those things bothered me, I wound up enjoying “Gloria” greatly; Garcia’s performance is the main reason for seeing this movie – she plays Gloria as a woman with great resilience whom I also found to be irresistibly sexy.

In what some might consider an unlikely comparison, I found “Gloria” to be somewhat similar to The Coen Brothers’ marvelous “Inside Llewyn Davis” in the sense that both are character-driven rather than plot-driven.  To work, certain requirements must be fulfilled in order to maintain viewer interest when there isn’t much of a plot to follow.  First, the central character must either be likeable or at least compelling; Llewyn Davis was obnoxious but never boring – by contrast, Gloria is eminently appealing as well as fascinating.  The other thing is that despite whatever blessings may be bestowed upon the character (if any), challenges must be encountered to create a sense of either overarching conflict throughout the movie or at least from scene to scene.  Again, both motion pictures do this and do it well, which are among the reasons why they are so good.

Some technical details about “Gloria”:  A Chilean film, it is in Spanish with English subtitles in white (at no point did I find them difficult to read).  It has an R rating due to nudity and sexual situations, as I alluded to above.  It has been submitted for Academy Award consideration in the category of Best Foreign Film (deservedly so, I think); in fact, Garcia won a Best Actress award for her portrayal of Gloria at the Berlin Film Festival.  It opens in limited release later this month; it will likely spend a short time in art houses, but I highly recommend you make the effort to see it, either in the theater, as an online rental or via Pay-Per-View. 

Gloria (2013) on IMDb 7.1/101,370 votes


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