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Saturday, October 5, 2013


Paulina García stars in GLORIA.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions
2013, 110 minutes
Rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, drug use and language

Review by Joshua Handler

Few films in recent memory have stuck with me like Sebastian Lélio's Gloria, a character study about a divorced woman in her mid-50s, Gloria (Paulina García, winner of Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival this year), who begins a relationship with a seemingly caring man, Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández) and simultaneously learns how to live life to the fullest.

This film belongs to García who turns in a naturalistic, completely involving performance as Gloria.  We all know people like her: she's past her prime, always goes unnoticed, is divorced, and dances by herself at the club.  García's performance is very courageous, as it shows Gloria at her best and her absolute worst.  García brings a vulnerability to the character of Gloria that allows us a window inside of her, but this vulnerability doesn't make her a weak character.  On the contrary, Gloria is one of the strongest female protagonists in ages.  This is the story of a woman who learns how to pick herself up and live life.  García's performance is realistic and is one of the main reasons why this movie is a must-see.  Performances don't get much richer than this.

Sebastian Lélio's relaxed directing style complements García's performance, as it allows the film to be a showcase for García, not him.  He really seems to care about this film, the character of Gloria in particular.  During yesterday's press conference, Lélio said that he wrote the film for García, and this fully explains why he focuses the film around her.  His obvious respect for García and her character make Gloria sympathetic - one we can root for.

When Gloria had initially ended, I didn't really love what I had just seen, but as I kept thinking about it, the more I discovered and the more I respected it and grew to love it.  Gloria has a lot on its mind and leaves a large impression, largely due to Paulina García's performance.

Overall, Gloria is a beautiful film that, if marketed right, should be a hit with middle-aged and older women.  This movie's honesty, big heart, and sense of humor are a winning combination and are what will likely win audiences over upon its release.  Gloria is Chile's submission to the Oscars, so if it gets a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, it could reach a wider audience.


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