Starring: Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez, Diego Fontecilla
Directed by: Sebastian Lelio (“The Year of the Tiger”)
Written by: Gonzalo Maza (“The Year of the Tiger”) and Sebastian Lelio (“The Year of the Tiger”)
Per usual, foreign films that have been submissions to the Oscars and gathering buzz continue their late roll into the San Antonio area. The latest to hit town is Chilean submission “Gloria,” which was submitted, but not nominated or shortlisted.
As a 58-year-old divorced mother, Gloria (Paulina Garcia) is looking for more out of life. After heading out to clubs and parties, she finally meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez) who is recently divorced and particularly enchanted by her. As their relationship begins to flourish, they each begin to contemplate something more long-term.
Much has been made about the performance of Garcia, which is mostly warranted. It is admittedly a bold role, taking on a woman who is sexually flourishing in her late 50s, one that Garcia plays without restraint. For much of the film, it almost feels as if she’s playing the role of someone 20 years younger than the character she is portraying.
“Gloria” is best classified as a character study. Light on plot, the film revolves around a look into the daily life of its lead character. As such, the film suffers from narrative rough patches where the film becomes a little dull and uneventful. Gloria and Rodolfo’s relationship is definitely interesting at certain points, especially as it becomes more and more complicated. One of the best scenes comes at a dinner party where Gloria is reunited with her kids and ex-husband and Rodolfo is left feeling a little out of place. Even considering this as the most interesting aspect of the film, their relationship arc becomes slightly strained and repetitive.
As is with many character studies, the film can only succeed based on the allure of its lead character. As such, Gloria is often a difficult character to find wholly compelling. There’s an appeal to seeing two people start a relationship slightly past midlife, but the storyline as a whole only has moderate mileage and intrigue. As a result, the film never really excels beyond a certain level. Its egocentricity is hammered home further in the final scene, in which the leading lady dances to a famous song that shares her name. It truly reinforces that idea that your enjoyment is likely to hinge on how charmed you are by Gloria herself.