Gloria (M)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner2/11/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 110 mins

Sebastian Lelio's Gloria is a warm-hearted, emotionally engaging Chilean comedy-drama-slash-character study with a sharply observed script and a terrific central performance from Paulina Garcia.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Sebastian Lelio, Gloria is set in present-day Santiago and stars Paulina Garcia as Gloria, a fifty-something woman who's been divorced for a decade. Her days are spent at her office job or helping out her adult children (Diego Fontecilla as Pedro, Fabiola Zamora as Ana) with whatever they need, though it's clear from their interaction that she doesn't see them as often as she'd like.

However, Gloria is determined to have a fulfilling life of her own, so she frequents the local disco and explores the Santiago singles scene. When she meets recently divorced Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), the pair hit it off (especially after he takes her paint-balling on their first date) and they begin a relationship, but Gloria becomes increasingly concerned when he keeps dropping everything to cater to the whims of his adult daughters.

The Good
Paulina Garcia is wonderful as Gloria, a strong-willed, sensible woman whose surface capability masks a loneliness and a yearning for companionship; she also has a delightful and unexpected fun-loving streak – her enthusiastic forays into paint-balling, bungee-jumping and marijuana are all very funny. Sergio Hernandez is equally good as Rodolfo, but this is Garcia's film, as she's in every frame, often in tight close-up (although her hair-do and thick glasses are amusingly reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie).

With very little in the way of an actual plot, the film is essentially a comedy-drama-slash-character study, though, like Nicole Holofcener's recent Enough Said, it also serves as a story about middle-aged, second-time-around romance. To that end, there are a number of affecting and sharply observed scenes, as well as several laugh-out-loud moments, such as Gloria enthusiastically ripping off Rodolfo's velcro girdle before sex. (Their final scene together is equally wonderful, though to say any more would be to spoil one of the film's best moments).

The Great
Lelio's direction is assured throughout, particularly in his soundtrack choices, which serve almost as a sort of Greek chorus. This leads to a stand-out climactic sequence involving Umberto Tozzi's song Gloria that is guaranteed to send you out of the cinema with a smile on your face.

Worth seeing?
Gloria is a superbly made, sharply written and brilliantly acted comedy-drama that's both emotionally engaging and laugh-out-loud funny. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 28/06/2017 12:12

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