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Maria Tereza Pujal
Divorced for more than ten years, Gloria, a vibrant 58-year-old office clerk in Santiago and mother of two grown-up kids, craves for adventure, refusing to spend the rest of her life in solitude and self-pity. Instead, the vivacious Gloria embraces her freedom, and because of her love for dance and an aching longing for companionship, she will meet Rodolfo, a recently divorced former naval officer, and will daringly decide to give love a second chance. Regretfully; however, Rodolfo comes with baggage, and even though Gloria is sincerely attracted to him, reality's harsh truth will inevitably bring her face-to-face with towering obstacles, rather than undiluted excitement and ardent passion. In the end, Gloria alone, yet surrounded by people, sad but at the same time happy, will she ultimately find the strength to overcome them?Written by
"Gloria" (2013 release from Chile; 100 min.) brings the story of Gloria (played by Paulina Garcia), a fifty-something divorced woman. As the movie opens, we find Gloria in a dance club with Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" blasting away. Gloria is alone, but certainly not lonely. She loves to dance, and she attracts the attention of others. Pretty soon, Gloria makes the acquaintance of Rodolfo, a sixty-something who is also divorced, yet emotionally still close to his ex-wife and even more so his two grown daughters. Meanwhile, we get to also know Gloria's grown kids: her son Pedro is taking care of a new baby, and her daughter Ana is involved with her boyfriend from Sweden. To tell you much more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Several comments: first, this is one great 'little' movie about the free-spirited Gloria. One can't help but marvel at the "joie de vivre" which Gloria lives by, even if things are not always easy or don't always go her way. Second, what can you say about the towering performance from Paulina Garcia in the title role! She is in virtually every frame of the movie, and she will blow you away. She brings a daring performance on every level. Co-star Sergio Hernandez as romantic interest Rodolfo is pretty good too. Beware: there are a number of nude scenes between these two, which may make uncomfortable viewing for some. I must say that I am surprised--and disappointed--that Paulina Garcia, who has won a number of international prizes for this performance (including "Best Actress" at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, where this movie premiered), did not even get nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Third, there are a couple of key scenes in the movie that will stay with you, none better in my opinion than the awkward family reunion on Pedro's birthday, with Gloria's ex-husband and his new wife, and Gloria introducing Rodolfo to her family for the first time. Just watch what happens. Last but not least: there is a ton of great music in the movie, including of course Umberto Tozzi's late 70s classic "Gloria" (Laura Branigan's cover version a few years later became a monster hit in the US).
This movie reminded me of the 1978 classic "An Unmarried Woman" starring Jill Clayburgh (I think she even won the Best Actress Oscar for this). Certainly these two movies are similar in spirit, if nothing else. "Gloria" opened last weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and when I went to see it this weekend, the matinée screening was surprisingly well attended, which is great news. If you are in the mood for a top-notch foreign movie with stellar performances, you cannot go wrong with this. "Gloria" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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