MRR Review: "Gloria"

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A story set in Santiago and centered on Gloria, a free-spirited older woman, and the realities of her whirlwind relationship with a former naval officer whom she meets out in the clubs.
3.5

Rating: R
Length: 110 minutes
Release Date: January 24, 2014
Directed by: Sebastian Lelio
Genre: Comedy / Drama

"Gloria" takes everything you thought you knew about life after 50, and offers a new and unexpected spin. Unlike Hollywood movies, such as "Waiting to Exhale" and "The Bridges of Madison County," "Gloria" offers a much more honest approach to romance and loneliness. Paulina Garcia shines in her role as "Gloria," a strong, funny and fearless 50-something divorcee.

Sebastian Lelio captures the real essence of what growing older alone really looks and feels like. Gloria, played by Paulina Garcia, is a recently divorced woman in her 50s. She has two grown children who are just too busy for her. The closest relationship she has is with the neighbor's hairless cat that continues to wander into her apartment. Gloria refuses to give up on love, so she ventures out into the world to find the companionship she craves and ends up finding herself in the process.

Gloria is the type of woman that sings along with her car stereo, laughs with complete emotion and seeks new adventure and excitement in her stale and stagnant life. As she ventures out in the singles scene, she is met with nothing more than some small talk that leads her only to her own empty bed at the end of the night. Gloria decides that she is not going to give up, so she goes back into the club that offered her nothing and hopes for a better outcome. While hiding behind red-framed glasses and dancing with abandon while buzzed on her red wine, she meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), an older man with a reserved personality and still tied to his recently severed marriage.

The heat between the two is undeniably hot, even with the sag, the flab and the elastic post-surgery belt that Rodolfo has to wear. The relationship takes off as Rodolfo cannot seem to get Gloria out of his mind, and she is finally able to share life and love with someone again. The ups and downs in the relationship are heart-wrenching with such a realistic approach. The raw emotion shines through as each actor flawlessly portrays their character throughout the film.

Rodolfo's cellphone seems to never stop, as Gloria begins to quickly realize his ex-wife and his daughters have a strong grip on him. Rodolfo, who sincerely showed interest in Gloria and was impressed by her free spirit and voracious sexual appetite, does not inspire in Gloria the same interest unfortunately. The stable and steady approach that Rodolfo had for his life, was not the one that appealed to Gloria — not now. The whirlwind love affair leaves a hint of sadness as it parts, but it opens up a feeling of independence and confidence like no other film has been able to do.

Gloria required a rush, excitement and some sort of adventure in her life. She teeters on the edge of recklessness on her pursuit of the something better lifestyle she wants. As she takes life by the reins, she does things she had never done before, things she never thought she would. Smoking pot, bungee jumping and even unloading a paint gun to express herself. Her behavior, although seemingly reckless at times, all pulls together without judgment in the end. Viewers are pulled into the story with such emotion that they are on the edge of their seats during many parts of the film. The quiet, haggardly woman that started the story is now a vibrant, lovable and passionate woman that makes viewers want to stand up and cheer.

Gloria takes control of her life, and even though she found love, she found something more important: herself. As she releases herself from the restraints of another confined and unsatisfying relationship, she is left with the knowledge that not only is there something better out there, but also that she deserves it, and it is never too late to find it.

The final scene leaves the viewers to fill in the blanks. As it shows Gloria at a wedding alone by choice, it displays both triumph and resignation.

The movie offers an eye-opening experience for viewers that life beyond 50 is not the end, and it can even be the beginning. Anyone who watches the film cannot help but to walk away feeling refreshed, revived and have the need to revisit their own choices in life. The perfect performance by Garcia and Hernandez brings the characters to life and the emotions to center stage. Lelio's direction on this Chilean import is amazing, it is a must see film for anyone over the age of 30.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5