The relatively hyped Chilean film Gloria (2013) has just hit Australian cinemas, so I thought I would take a look at it. Much of the hype for the film stems from it’s slightly left of centre love story and the lauded performance of lead actress Paulina Garcia.
Garcia won the best actress award at the Berlin film fest for her titular performance and her turn does deserve the hype. She is very good and essentially the entire film runs through her. Unfortunately though, setting aside the age of the protagonist, there is not actually that much unconventional about the narrative here. Indeed much of it at times meanders toward the cliché. Garcia’s Gloria is a divorcee who at first glance appears tired with life. She has two kids who never bother calling, is always alone even in a packed room, wears old fashioned glasses and dances half-heartedly on nights out. Gloria is adrift in the world. The only place that it feels like she totally belongs is singing in her car (though she is completely alone here too). After falling into a passionate relationship with fellow divorcee Rodolfo however, Gloria’s fun-loving tendencies begin to shine through. The story shifts into a relatively standard trials and tribulations of a budding relationship story from that point. The distinctiveness of having a budding relationship at this age is presented relatively nicely, but most of what you see here, you will have seen before.
It is possible for a film to be too understated and I think that is one of the issues I had with Gloria. I don’t mind a slow going film, but this is very slow going and I think it needed a bit more conflict or pop from the script. Which is not to say it is a bad script (or film for that matter), rather it just felt a little underwritten and that extra detail could have provided a little more narrative thrust which I think the film would have benefited from. There are a number of hints of intrigue simmering just below the surface with these characters. Unfortunately though, these are never brought to the surface. So intriguing would be plot points such as Rodolfo’s true relationship with his ex, where Gloria’s son’s partner is and Gloria’s growing love of weed are never resolved or even examined as they could have been. But again I have to praise the performance of Paulina Garcia here. She really does carry the whole film and it would have been a weaker film without her. Especially fantastic are the moments of pure joy she is able to so perfectly encapsulate and convey through the film.
Gloria has been a bit of a critical darling, so is one that you should probably take a look at despite my misgivings. Not to mention the fact that Paulina Garcia’s performance is worth your time. It never really got going for me, but the languid pace may work a little better for you.
Verdict: Schooner of Carlton Draught
For Aussie readers, I have five double passes for Gloria to give away thanks to Rialto Distribution. Check out my Facebook and Twitter feeds to get liking and retweeting to go in the draw.
Also, it may be a quiet couple of weeks on the site. I have a fair few day job (lame) and sporting commitments coming up. I have also had the first episode of the Beer Movie Podcast recorded for weeks and still not gotten around to editing it, so need to get on that.
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Great review here and you kind of confirmed my suspicion about this film. “…very slow going and I think it needed a bit more conflict or pop from the script” I felt that a lot of critics seem to like this kind of films though. I remember all the rave reviews for Another Year and when I finally saw it I just couldn’t wait for it to be over. It’s much too s-lo-w for my liking, despite some great performances like the one you mentioned here.
Yeah actually I think I steered clear of Another Year cause that is the vibe that I got from it as well. Sometimes slow is good. But I think it is very hard (though not impossible) to make a highly watchable film where so little happens. That was my issue here, needed a little more action.
Nice review, Tim. Whish I could be Down Under so I could score some free movie passes, haha!
Looking forward to your return!