Mike's ProfileMike has a degree in Film from The University of Texas at Austin. He has worked in the entertainment industry for the past 25 years and sees two to four new movies in the theatre a week. Mike has a weekly movie blog where he reviews films both present and past at: lastonetoleavethetheatre.blogspot.com He can be followed on Twitter @lastonetoleave
In this film from Chilean director/cowriter Sebastian Lelio, Gloria (Paulina Garcia) is a 58 year old divorcee. She has a good job, two adult children who love her and she has a love for romantic songs and dancing. While Gloria seems to be happy, she is still looking for love. She hopes to find it at the dance clubs she frequents. Gloria isn’t afraid to go to the clubs alone and approach men to dance, all the while she is hoping that she will meet the one.
When we first meet Gloria, she is at one of her nightclubs, a dance club that seems to cater to the older crowd. We follow her around as she dances both alone and with men, most of which she approaches on her own. Right at the start of the film, we notice that Gloria is fearless in her hunt for love, willing to put herself out there. It seems that when Gloria wants a relationship, whether it’s with a man or her own children that she always has to make the first move.
Her life isn’t perfect. She lives in a small apartment, where the upstairs neighbor rants and raves to himself through the night. There is a strange hairless cat that Gloria finds revolting, which keeps trying to get into her apartment. Gloria is very alone and seems to be constantly reminded of the fact. When she wants to see her children, she has to invite herself into their lives, such as joining a yoga class that her daughter teaches. While she won’t let life get her down, but we can tell, after spending some time with her, that there is something missing in her life.
She then meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), a retired military man at the club. He whisks her off her feet and promptly takes her home to sleep with her. Several days later, Gloria is surprised when she receives a phone call from Rodolfo asking for a date. This starts a budding relationship which Gloria hopes will start to blossom into love and fill the missing pieces in her life. Rodolfo romances Gloria, taking her to dinner and on adventures to play paintball and bungee jump, all of which Gloria enjoys immensely. There is a warning sign though, when Rodolfo starts getting phone calls at odd times from both his ex-wife and his grown children. Gloria accepts the phone calls as a necessary evil at the start of the relationship, but it starts her questioning their relationship. Ultimately, Gloria may have to discover if there be more than meets the eye with Rodolfo.
“Gloria” is a film that treats its characters like they live and love in the real world. These characters look real, with the age lines and added pounds that come from aging. They have real feelings and faults, making the film true to its core. “Gloria” is a film that isn’t afraid to depict it’s characters as real people, not some Hollywood cutout where it’s characters look like “photo-shopped” people from magazine covers.
Paulina Garcia is the center of this film, and you fall in love with her character almost from the start. Garcia is able to convey both assertiveness (like when she is in the clubs trying to find someone to dance with) and a vulnerability with each scene that she is in. It’s a masterful job of portraying a very complex and multilayered character. Garcia lets us see beyond the surface of her character. Gloria isn’t perfect, but Garcia allows us to root for her character, faults and all.
Director Lelio does give us a few glimpses into everyday life in Chile. At dinner parties, the subject of a failing government and the high cost of medical care are talked and debated about. We also see, in the many TV’s throughout the film that there seems to be a constant stream of protest going on in the country.
While set in Chile, the relationships in the movie and the problems that pop because of those relationships, could be set in any modernized country. That is the beauty of Lelio’s film. He has created a world that we can all relate to as adults and a character, the spunky, determined Gloria, perfectly played by Garcia, that we can root and cheer for. My Rating: Full Price