Gloria Screen 74 of 17 reviews

Gloria

2013

Gloria Poster
  • The film’s strength is that it operates both as a compelling character study of an alluring, humane protagonist whose fragility and resourcefulness sit side by side, and as a wider contemplation of the state of the nation, without the latter dimension ever appearing forced or imposed.

  • The beauty of the mundane is what gives the picture its narrative drive, and its vitality... What Lelio and Garcia pull off here is so delicate and sturdy that it defies such easy categorization.

  • Writer-director Sebastián Lelio, whose fourth feature this is, has a confident way of parceling out exuberance and melancholy in a setting of mundane everyday realism. But this is also one of those films that you can’t imagine without its magnetic and superbly nuanced central performance, and it’s no disrespect to Lelio to say that Gloria is as much Paulina García’s film as it is his (at Berlin, she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress).

  • Sebastián Lelio’s fine film boasts subtly nuanced, plausible performances, none more so than García as the strong-willed, fun-loving but sometimes lonely protagonist. Though it’s most successful as a character study, the movie also works as an unusually honest variation on the traditional cinematic love story (it rings especially true on the difficulties of starting over after years of settled family life).

  • At times it seems a little slow. The sinking feeling that this is a promising character study bogged down by stylistic ennui hits around the mid-point, but before all hope is lost, events pick up and for the final act where it becomes apparent that the placid but purposeful Gloria is a thrillingly unknowable figure.

  • It’s possible to detect more than a few hints of detachment or even derision in the way that Gloria treats its protagonist, but Garcia’s performance stands up against these moments in the screenplay in a way that creates genuine friction—the fraught quality that generally makes for worthwhile filmmaking. Her hotel room seduction of Rodolfo is a case in point...

  • For a while, director Sebastián Lelio refuses to give in to either Haneke-ish ugliness or Miramax-style sentimentality—until the late-act appearance of a paintball gun and a dance-floor victory lap regrettably nudge things toward option two. But after seeing García’s award-winning performance, you won’t really care about the AARP-pandering aspects. Funny, sexy, sad, vulnerable and ultimately tenacious, her Gloria is one of the most complex, fully fleshed-out over-60 females to ever hit screens.

  • The film’s conclusion, reminiscent of Claire Denis’ Beau travail (1999), features a stirring use of Umberto Tozzi’s anthem “Gloria” (of course!), and Paulina Garcia’s monumental performance as Gloria the woman guaranteed her the Best Actress award. But in the perverse logic of festival competitions, this seemed to unjustly invalidate Gloriathe film from consideration for the bigger prizes.

  • The film is peppered with delightful humor, such as Gloria’s attending a cuddle party or experimenting with pot for the first time, and its depiction of sexuality is as tactful and affecting as it is frank (one sex scene involves the removal of a girdle as part of the foreplay).

  • It is all tied to the disconnected feelings of post-Pinochet Chileans, in a way that a foreigner can’t miss, but may be unable to fully comprehend. Fortunately, Garcia — singing along with pop songs or indulging in a flashy act of revenge — is always worth paying attention to.

  • Gloria has more to offer than simply bankable appeal. The 58-year-old titular protagonist (Paulina García) is a complicated female character, and the film does much to normalize her sexual appetite in a way that never feels self-righteous or explicitly political. With its compelling and original approach to its romance narrative, coupled with García's nuanced and intuitive performance, the film delicately balances an entire octave of emotions.

  • Lelio, again co-writing with Gonzalo Mazo, centers the film on Garcia from start to finish, right down to scenes of her stumbling about her apartment or blinking in the pitiless light of day after an all-nighter. Garcia is up to the challenge (though, truth be told, those specs seem an unnecessarily obscuring touch), and brings a welcome, defiant sense of brio to a complex role.

  • Leilo also shows us the many pleasures that still keep Gloria going, but without a shred of sentimentality. All the while, the camera carefully observes Gloria, weaving a complex portrait lent nuance by Garcia, without ever spoiling the mystery of her character's deepest thoughts.

  • It’s to both García’s and Sebastián Lelio’s credit that festival audiences have been sharply divided on whether Gloria is admirable or pitiable, and on whether her perception of Rodolfo’s solicitude toward a former spouse is accurate or delusional. Either way, Gloria is a beautifully judged portrait of loneliness and resilience, equally effective whether seen as “you go girl” triumphalism or the willful obliviousness of someone for whom the truth would be too painful to endure.

  • Really wish this would have ended on the 'skeleton dancing in the mall' scene, as Gloria contemplates picking up her phone. This nails her essential conundrum (loneliness rooted in fear of decay), and closing here bypasses the severe mood swings of the last twenty minutes, which establishes one potential ending scene after another, shuffling through modes and repeating ideas, finally landing on a neatly circular conclusion that maximizes inspiring cuteness but comes off as a little too pat.

  • Though García's performance is enough to hold the vignettes together, it isn't quite enough to redeem a handful of dramatic miscalculations, especially in the home stretch, that ultimately makes the film seem slighter than it ought to have been.

  • García’s performance is really the whole show here, and the film portrays late-life romance and sexuality in a bracingly matter-of-fact way. But the movie becomes disappointingly pat the more García is pressed to make a decision on her lover, who stubbornly refuses to let her be a part of his life apart from the bedroom, always using his family as an excuse. A coup de grace via paintball gun seems at odds with the movie’s tone.

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