Review: ‘Gloria’ (PG) ****

gloriaHER kids are raising their own families. She discarded an unsatisfactory husband a decade ago. After work, she might go to one of Santiago’s clubs to dance and drink in moderation. We don’t yet know whether she seeks comfort from one-night stands.

Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez) catches her eye across a dance floor. She responds cautiously. He’s a cash cow divorced from the mother of two lumpy adult daughters seen only once, late in the film, by which time Gloria and Rodolfo are well on the way toward an enduring relationship.

If that were so, most of the muted emotional energy driving young Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio’s film would be wallowing in comfortable uncertainty. The road to Happy Ever After presents bumps, tight curves and steep climbs. Marriage has seriously scarred Rodolfo’s psyche. Love is there, but his emotional courage hesitates at fear of another relationship failure.

Against this background, the film paints a fine portrait of a woman dealing maturely with minor flaws and anxieties. The difficult choice she faces tests her courage as well.

Gloria can overlook just so much. Paulina Garcia plays her with charm, affection and toughness. Having written for her a character unblemished by cliché, pathos or melodrama, Lelio delivers a substantial creative dividend to us. Handsome rather than beautiful, Gloria’s physical presence projects desirability in and beyond the bedroom.

The film sends us a generous gift, a woman making an admirable impact not dependant on earth-shattering life achievements.

At Palace Electric

 

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