Directed by: Sebastian Lelio Written by: Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza Starring: Paulina Garcia and Sergio Hernandez Rating: R Run Time: 110 min.
Gloria is a woman who radiates a passion for life that is rarely captured on film for someone of her age. Although she often seems lonely, she knows how to live an independent life and her story shares the perspective of old age that is refreshing and bold.
The film, directed by Sebastian Lelio, is bursting with as much energy as the titular character Gloria. It is touching to see a film that portrays a love story between two older people and doesn’t treat it like one. This is not to say that the romance between Gloria and her new boyfriend Rodolfo isn’t affected by the aspects of life that are inevitable when you are older, but it is not rooted in themes of sickness or loss. This is a romance that demonstrates the same problems that occur for everybody; the emotions and problems that these characters go through are not rooted in ageism.
A standout aspect of this film is the award-winning performance (Best Actress at Berlin) by Paulina Garcia, who is glowing as Gloria, a woman who is always smiling, laughing, dancing, and making the most out of her life. Even though we get glimpses into her loneliness, this character is not one that is ever asking for sympathy. She is a strong, levelheaded woman who has control of her life and it is brilliant to watch her even in the most ordinary of everyday activities. There isn’t anything over-the-top about Garcia’s performance, but through Gloria she creates an identifiable character that will give women of all ages someone for whom to root and to aspire to be like. It is a lived-in performance that makes one love this woman, keeping the audience constantly engaged. Equally as endearing is Sergio Hernandez as Rodolfo, a recently divorced man who wants to give himself completely to Gloria but still support his family. He plays a man in a difficult situation, constantly torn between his old and new life, but whose failure to find a balance between the two leads to problems in his budding romance.
The romantic progression between Gloria and Rodolfo is natural. The film handles the sex scenes gracefully and honestly; it does not hold back simply because this is not a young romance. This is one of the ways that the film is daring in its approach. It is rare to see romance on film between two older people at the forefront. If anything, that arc is meant for supporting characters, rarely placed front and centre. The fact that the romance between Gloria and Rodolfo is handled in such a raw way is a beautiful thing to watch. These are characters that are not plagued by their age. The dialogue in the film is real and often hilarious. There is something very relatable in the way that these characters interact with each other, and the way they speak can be quite touching. The insecurities that the relationship between Gloria and Rodolfo endures are universal.
Gloria is a charming film that leaves one feeling empowered. The last sequence makes you want to get up and dance, not just because of the music, but because of the journey that you have just been on with these characters. With brilliant performances and a fresh take on an older romance, Gloria is a must-see for people of any age.