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With: Paulina Garc�a, Sergio Hern�ndez, Diego Fontecilla, Fabiola Zamora, Luz Jim�nez, Alejandro Goic, Liliana Garc�a, Coca Guazzini, Hugo Moraga
Written by: Sebasti�n Lelio, Gonzalo Maza
Directed by: Sebasti�n Lelio
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, drug use and language
Language: Spanish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 01/24/2014

Gloria (2013)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

You Don't Have to Answer

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Every so often a filmmaker attempts to make a film about regular people. It's sometimes a joke, as in Sullivan's Travels (1941), but often it can result in a film that really touches people, such as the Oscar-winning Marty (1955). The new Gloria, an import from Chile, is one of those films.

Paulina García, primarily known for her television and stage work, stars as Gloria. She's perhaps slightly past middle age, and divorced, but living her life. She goes to various classes; in one the students lay on each other's bellies and laugh. And she goes out drinking and dancing, where she's not afraid to lock eyes with silver-haired gentlemen across the room.

One such gentlemen is the likewise divorced Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), who runs a paint-gun park and is trying to change his life, but is still very much under the control of his ex-wife and his two, grown, demanding daughters. Gloria and Rodolfo fall into a sexual relationship, and the movie does not shy away from the sex acts of people past their forties. They both want it; why hide it?

When Gloria takes Rodolfo to a birthday party with her entire family, he suddenly disappears, later claiming that she wasn't giving him enough attention. She gives him a second chance and they take a weekend getaway together. Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and Gloria is left alone. She goes drinking and winds up in the arms of a stranger.

Written and directed by Sebastián Lelio, Gloria is not so much about plot developments or any kind of spiritual or emotional growth for Gloria, but simply her life itself. We briefly see her at work, some monotonous office job, trying to phone her absent children. We see her at home, dealing with a screaming upstairs neighbor (like voices in her head), as well as a mysterious hairless cat that makes itself at home in Gloria's apartment (Gloria is revulsed by the creature and can barely touch it).

Obviously, this is a one-woman show, and an extraordinary part for an actress, and Paulina García fulfills it 100%. Her Gloria is a woman not entirely self-aware. Her hair and clothes aren't quite right, but most of all it's her weird glasses that don't seem to fit her face. They make her seem sometimes silly, but sometimes soulful, as if they revealed something about her that she didn't want to reveal.

The movie has a wonderful ending as Gloria attends a wedding. She seems too burned out to dance, but when the DJ plays a Spanish version of the 1982 Laura Branigan pop song "Gloria" her very spirit seems to come to life, as if everything and everyone were revolving around her, if only for a moment. Gloria gets to celebrate, not because she has transcended anything, but because she keeps trying.

Note: the movie was submitted to the Academy for Best Foreign Language Film, but was overlooked in favor of several less interesting candidates.

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