Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Sebastián Lelio's "Gloria" takes place in Santiago, where Gloria (Paulina Garcia in a great performance), a divorcee of 58, looks for new love through her endearingly oversized glasses.
Life throws the kitchen sink at Gloria - her kids let her phone calls go to voicemail; the depressive upstairs hurls deranged rants at all hours; his ugly hairless cat continually sneaks into her apartment; she's diagnosed with glaucoma ("You'll need to take these drops every day for the rest of your life," her ophthalmologist tells her) - but she keeps on keeping on.
She spends weekends at a dance club with an older clientele, where she meets recently divorced Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), who brings her home for a lovemaking scene that Lelio doesn't shy away from. While Gloria removes his truss as if ripping the belt off a young hunk, the friend on my right broke the silence in the theater: "Ugh - there's nothing worse than an old man's body!" His ex-wife's and kids' continuing overdependence on Rodolfo chafes at Gloria. She brings him to a family event one night and he ducks out, later telling her "I searched again and again for your eyes." (She hadn't noticed he was gone until closing time.)
Rotten Tomatoes lists "Gloria" as a drama, and there's certainly an element of pathos to it. But what defines Gloria and ingratiates her to us so much is her resilience. She reacts with the same wry, silent smile when a man looks right past her as when Rodolfo proclaims his eternal love. As the friend on my left noted, there's a bit of Molly Shannon to Gloria - she's kind of a mess - and we saw the movie in a comic light. When we congregated with some other friends outside, one said she'd slept through half of it (admittedly, Lelio could have cut out ten minutes of redundant scenes of Gloria singing in her car) and the other asked, "Who was that idiot laughing the entire time?"