Gloria (Paulina García) is refreshing and complex. A 58 year-old divorcee, she’s neither a sexy cougar nor a dowdy grandmother; rather she’s intelligent, attractive and assertive. Gloria, a Chilean drama/comedy from Sebastián Lelio, opens and closes on similar shots of Gloria alone on a crowded dancefloor. Alone, not lonely.
Gloria’s still dating, becoming acquainted with weak-willed Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), a man defined by the women in his life (his daughters). Gloria refuses to be similarly defined by men. Portrayed with subtlety and humanity by García, she’s a memorable character, but no saint: her focus on her own happiness regularly strays into selfishness.
Gloria lacks the confidence of its protagonist. Formally it’s occasionally clumsy – a number of scenes seem poorly focused – but my main quarrel was with the inconsistency of its identity. Numerous moments suggest deeper meaning – an hairless cat appearing in Gloria’s apartment; a glaucoma diagnosis that will cause her “field of vision to diminish”; and the way Gloria’s daughter cringes at the touch of her father. There’s a sense of purpose behind these moments that’s never realised. Nonetheless, Gloria is commendable for telling the story of a strong older woman establishing her own independence; a story too rarely told.