×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gloria

A divorced woman in her late 50s recaptures her life in Sebastian Lelio's pitch-perfect, terrifically written "Gloria."

With:
With: Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez, Marcial Tagle, Diego Fontecilla, Fabiola Zamora, Antonia Santa Maria, Coca Guazzini, Hugo Moraga, Alejandro Goic, Liliana Garcia, Luz Jimenez.

A divorced woman in her late 50s recaptures her life in Sebastian Lelio’s pitch-perfect, terrifically written “Gloria.” Were this an American film, the situation of a middle-aged woman refusing to give in to loneliness would likely be fashioned into a comedy starring Meryl Streep or Maggie Smith, but Lelio refuses to adopt the industry’s ageist slant, presenting a woman (magnificently played by Paulina Garcia) of undisguised sexuality seeking to be the center of life for the man she loves. Perceptive and unerringly sympathetic, “Gloria” has the makings of an arthouse sleeper.

A subtitle for the pic could be “The Promise of Life in Your Heart,” taken from Tom Jobim’s classic “Aguas de Marco” (Waters of March), beautifully incorporated in one scene. Like the song itself, “Gloria” rejects sentimentalism, descending in its rhythms to locate the core emotions and then satisfyingly honoring that promise. Lelio’s thoroughgoing understanding of music’s function, how it consoles but most of all elides with mood, is matched by his sensitivity to Gloria’s search.

The camera never leaves Garcia’s Gloria, and why would it? From the opening shot of a disco for middle-aged singles, where she shyly toys with looking sexy behind her oversized glasses (only rarely a barrier to connecting with the world), viewers want to know more about this woman of fitful confidence. Divorced from Gabriel (Alejandro Goic) for 13 years, she has two adult kids, Ana (Fabiola Zamora) and Pedro (Diego Fontecilla), but they have their own lives and don’t call much. Gloria still works, so it’s not that she has nothing to do, yet she feels marginalized in the sphere of her loved ones.

At the disco she meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), and she’s the one to make her interest known, via expressive eyes. He’s been divorced just a year and is new at this game; she takes him home and they have sex (once he takes his girdle off). And not the “keep it under a sheet so the sagging flesh doesn’t show” kind, but the sort of lovemaking usually reserved for body doubles, with no effort to hide cellulite, paunches or natural carnality.

Rodolfo expresses his love for Gloria, yet he hasn’t told his two adult daughters or his ex-wife, all still dependents financially and emotionally. When Gloria takes him to Pedro’s birthday party, which includes her ex and his wife, Rodolfo can’t deal with being an outsider in their midst and leaves without so much as a goodbye. Her response when he later explains his actions: “Grow a pair.” Exactly.

Later at the hairdresser, Lelio uses a snippet from Mahler’s Adagietto, deliberately recalling “Death in Venice” — not because he’s suggesting Gloria’s fate will equal Aschenbach’s (Gloria’s hair dye doesn’t run), but because it marks the one time she feels old. The moment, like the emotion itself, is fittingly brief, and despite some inner wounds, Gloria is no helpless woman — needy yes, though not excessively so, and mercifully not defeated. The end scene, set to Umberto Tozzi’s original version of the song “Gloria,” is enormously gratifying.

Ever since his debut with “The Sacred Family,” Lelio has been exploring what he’s referred to as “family as a sacred trap,” and he remains just as concerned with this dynamic of obligation and restraint, and the individual’s sense of self within that necessary constriction. Gloria wants to be more involved in her kids’ lives, but she also needs an existence separate from theirs in which she’s the focal point.

At a time when people keep distancing themselves from the word “feminist,” it’s wonderful to see a film that expresses the necessary vitality of the concept in such a discerning way. Credit must also go to Lelio’s co-writer Gonzalo Maza, whom he’s worked with since “Christmas.” The two have an excellent sense of humor, and “Gloria” contains several sparkling absurdist scenes, especially when Gloria’s cleaning lady (Luz Jimenez) tells the apocryphal story of how cats were made on Noah’s Ark.

The role of Gloria is a gift for an actress, and Garcia amply rewards the trust in her abilities with a fearless performance; vulnerable and lonely yet undefeated, Gloria refuses to compromise, which registers in the physicality the thesp brings to the role. Hernandez, a Lelio regular, is an ideal partner and foil, nailing Rodolfo’s conflict between desire and fear.

The camera maintains Gloria’s viewpoint, unintrusive yet omnipresent, and reflecting her state of mind without showiness. A good example is Pedro’s birthday scene, tightly shot to convey the claustrophobia of the situation. Songs are perfectly chosen, and all are subtitled except, oddly, “Aguas de Marco.”

Gloria

Chile

Production: A Fabula, Muchas Gracias, Nephilim production, in association with Forastero. (International sales: Funny Balloons, Paris.) Produced by Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain, Sebastian Lelio, Gonzalo Maza. Executive producers, Juan Ignacio Correa, Mariane Hartard, Rocio Jadue, Andrea Carrasco Stuven. Directed by Sebastian Lelio. Screenplay, Lelio, Gonzalo Maza.

Crew: Camera (color), Benjamin Echazarreta; editors, Soledad Salfate, Lelio; production designer, Marcela Urivi; costume designer, Eduardo Castro; sound (Dolby Digital), Isaac Moreno, David Mantecon, Ismael Calvo; line producer, Alejandro Castillo; associate producer, Martin Carcamo; assistant director, Manuela Delpiano; casting, Moira Miller. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 10, 2013. Running time: 108 MIN.

Cast: With: Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez, Marcial Tagle, Diego Fontecilla, Fabiola Zamora, Antonia Santa Maria, Coca Guazzini, Hugo Moraga, Alejandro Goic, Liliana Garcia, Luz Jimenez.

More Scene

  • Amy Poehler Is Ready for a

    Amy Poehler Is Ready for a 'Parks and Rec' Reunion

    Is Amy Poehler just getting our hopes up? We hope not, because the funny lady tells Variety that she’s ready for a “Parks and Recreation” reunion. “I am technically available,” Poehler said on Monday at Smart Girls’ 10th anniversary celebration dinner. “I have like six of Leslie’s blazers in my closet, so anytime.” More Reviews Film [...]

  • Meredith Walker, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler,

    Inside Amy Poehler's Smart Girls 10th Anniversary Dinner (EXCLUSIVE)

    “I’ve made an observation I’d like to share. I’m the only one that’s eaten my crab cake,” joked Amy Poehler as she addressed the room during the round robin introductions being made at her Smart Girls 10th anniversary dinner on Monday night. The 16 women at the table, who were so enthralled in the conversation [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de

    Alfonso Cuaron Says 'Roma' Is Better in Theaters

    Director Alfonso Cuaron opted to work with Netflix for his latest film “Roma,” but the decorated filmmaker isn’t discounting the importance of a big-screen viewing. “The complete experience of ‘Roma’ is unquestionably in a movie theater,” Cuaron said Monday night at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles for the premiere of “Roma.”  The streaming giant did [...]

  • Dylan O'Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett,

    Travis Knight on Getting the Call to Direct ‘Bumblebee’: ‘Did You Guys Get The Right Number?’

    “Bumblebee” director Travis Knight admits he couldn’t believe it when Paramount Studios and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura called him two years ago, asking him to helm the upcoming “Transformers” movie. “My initial question was, ‘Did you guys get the right number?'” Knight joked at Sunday’s premiere of “Bumblebee” at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. “You’ve seen [...]

  • Director Peter JacksonWarner Bros. Pictures THEY

    Peter Jackson Talks Transition From 'Hobbit' Movies to World War I Documentary

    Peter Jackson remains a bit astounded at his transition four years ago from the Shire of Middle Earth to the French battlefields of World War I. Jackson introduced his documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” Friday night at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood, four weeks after it aired on Armistice Day on the BBC. [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • Children's Defense Fund

    Angela Bassett, Conan O'Brien Honor Young Students at Children's Defense Fund Gala

    Awards season may be right around the corner, but on Thursday, Hollywood took a break from the glitz and glam to celebrate five high school students who have excelled academically despite facing extreme adversity both at home and in the classroom. The 29th annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center featured [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content