DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

GLORIA (director/writer: Sebastián Lelio; screenwriter: Gonzalo Maza; cinematographer: Benjamín Echazarreta; editor: Soldedad Salfate/Sebastián Lelio; music:  ; cast: Paulina García (Gloria), Sergio Hernández (Rodolfo), Marcial Tagle (Marcial), Diego Fontecilla (Pedro), Fabiola Zamora (Ana), (Luz Jiminez (Victoria, domestic), Alejandro Goic (Gabriel), Liliana García (Flavia), Eval Meyer (Theo), Antonia Santa María (María), Coca Guazzini (Luz); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Juan de Dios Larraín/Pablo Larraín/Sebastián Lelio/Gonzalo Maza; Roadside Attractions; 2013-Chile-in Spanish, with English subtitles)

"Garcia's appealing performance makes us root for her."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Chilean director Sebastián Lelio ("Christmas"/"Smog"/"El año del tigre ") co-writes with Gonzalo Maza this observant indie romantic comedy. It's about a middle-class 58-year-old divorced resident of Santiago, Gloria (Paulina García), with two grown children living on their own, who puts on a smile for the outside world even though hurting inside, as she goes regularly to senior citizen single discos hoping to meet a man. One night she meets the polite owner of an amusement park, someone her own age, Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), and hops into bed with him hoping to make a relationship. Things sour when he won't introduce her to his two grown daughters and still looks after his ex-wife of a year. Gloria invites Rodolfo to her son Pedro's (Diego Fontecilla) birthday party, where he meets her engaged to a world-traveller Swedish ski bum yoga instructor daughter Ana (Fabiola Zamora) and her ex-husband (Alejandro Goic), not seen by her for the last ten years, and his pregnant second wife (Liliana García). Without telling anyone the spineless Rodolfo rudely walks out of the family reunion, leaving Gloria miffed. When Rodolfo repeatedly calls, asking for another chance, she relents and they go to a nearby seaside resort for a weekend together. When Rodolfo receives a call from his daughter that his ex-wife is hurt, going through a pane of glass, he without a word abandons Gloria and stiffs her for the bill. In the conclusion, Gloria regains her nerve, as she's again at the disco and sings the Umberto Tozzi's 1979 hit Gloria (sung by Laura Branagan, who dubs Gloria's voice).

I think Lelio meant us to admire the aging vulnerable woman, who faces such social hurts, glaucoma and also has to cope with her inconsiderate noisy upstairs neighbor keeping her awake every night. That in the end she shows spunk and determines she can have fun in her golden years despite all the drawbacks makes her into an empowered heroine.

Garcia's appealing performance makes us root for her, as she invites no self-pity in this slight but unpretentious pic about lonely senior citizens still looking for romance.

REVIEWED ON 3/23/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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