Gloria

Gloria photo starrating-2andahalfstars.jpgThe song “Gloria” that was a smash hit for Laura Branigan in 1982 was first sung by Umberto Tozzi with Italian lyrics in 1979. You’ll hear the later version of the song near the end of Gloria the movie, which was Chile’s selection for the foreign language Oscar in 2013. It didn’t get a nomination incidentally. For my tastes I prefer the remake because its extra bouncy kick is upbeat and inspiring. The original, while pleasant is more romantic with a starry-eyed flavor.

I can see why the filmmakers chose Tozzi’s version though. Its softer beats actually befits the film. Gloria is 58, divorced and single. She’s rather nondescript but she wears these super large glasses that compare to the spectacles Dustin Hoffman wore in Tootsie. Come to think of it, Gloria looks a lot like Tootsie. Anyway, she’s been single for 12 years so perhaps a little desperation has set in. She’s tired of being lonely. She spends her nights hanging out in dance clubs that play the disco music of her youth. She’s looking for love by seeing a succession of men her own age, but the affairs lead to nothing lasting. Then she meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), a man in his mid 60s. Could he be the one?

Gloria is sympathetic up to a point, but she also makes a lot of really bad choices. We have the insider’s view, watching her relationship with Rodolfo when they‘re together. He is an ex-naval officer, who is recently divorced with two needy adult daughters. He is taken with Gloria and she with him. But he doesn’t even want to tell them of his new love for fear they will laugh at their old man. They call his cell phone constantly when they’re together. Their interactions involve the occasional sexual encounter. The actors bare all for their director. Sebastián Lelio proudly flaunts the nudity of people over 50 as if the lack of restraint deserves acclaim. Gloria ultimately introduces Rodolfo to her own family at a special dinner party. Then he inexplicably leaves for questionable reasons. “Grow a pair!” she demands out of exasperation. This type of insensitive behavior happens several times. You want her to just leave him, but she keeps coming back. Apparently he is all she has.

Gloria as a movie isn’t particularly innovative. It feels like some rediscovered relic from the 70s highlighting the liberated single woman character wronged by men. Here she is a vibrant older woman who, once married, must now come to terms with being alone. Her emotional journey to make peace with her current state in life is where the story mines its drama. The entire film rests on the performance of its titular star. Gloria is highlighted by Paulina García. She craves passion and it’s hard not to care about her predicament. We sympathize with her for awhile. But Rodolfo’s conduct grows more inconsiderate and less tolerable. He’s weak and ineffectual. We do not share in her attraction to this man. Her decision to keep going back to him is a little frustrating and after awhile, enabling. Laura Branigan sang, “Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?” Because if they are, don’t answer them, Gloria. Just walk away.

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11 Responses to “Gloria”

  1. Nice review. This is playing right now at a local theater near me, but I’m not too interested in checking this out.

  2. Great review Mark. I am not sure if East TN is going to wind up getting this one, but if we do I’ll echo Ck above and say I won’t be in any kind of hurry to go see it. Seems very much like a movie like The Hunt — frustrating through and through (and though I am aware The Hunt is a much more acclaimed work, I don’t have any interest in seeing a guy being wrongfully accused for 90-plus minutes haha). Still, this movie seemed like it could be kind of original. Perhaps not.

    • Actually Gloria is currently at 99% on RT. The acclaim is there, mostly for Paulina García’s performance. While she is the whole movie and she’s sympathetic to a point, after awhile you want to tell her to “Wake up and smell the coffee!” She was just as guilty for staying with the loser for as long as she did.

      • . . .I stand corrected! But I do notice there is a large disparity between critical and audience responses, so i think that’s what I need to know. 🙂

  3. Superb write-up, Mark!

  4. Gloria is a mess. I was with her at the beginning, with her yoga, dating, nightclubbing and confidence. After a while, she started making horrible choices. I wanted to slap some sense into her. lol. By the time the movie was ending, I had given up on her. Sorry Gloria, 2 stars from me.

  5. Sounds pretty meh. As a typical “nice guy,” I would hate that Gloria kept going back to Rodolfo despite his jerky behavior. That kind of thing gets under my skin. Just like the frustration I had while watching Blue Jasmine with the Sally Hawkins character. Not that her boyfriend was an asshole, he meant well, but she deserved better and was just too lazy to actually push herself too after being let down by the Louis C.K. character.

    • This is Blue Jasmine related but since you brought it up…

      I didn’t think Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) boyfriends were bad at all. Jasmine did, but she objected to them because they were working class types. Ironically they were actually much better than Jasmine’s white collar type husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) who turned out to be a cheater and a crook.

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