Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Movie Review: Gloria (2013)

For my library's summer reading program, staff are encouraged to participate as well. Our theme this year is a camp theme and you can earn badges for each "camp" by completing 5 tasks on that camp's list. I just moved on to Travel Camp but last week I was in Camp Hollywood. That meant that two of the five tasks I could tick off were (1) ask a librarian for a movie suggestion and (2) check out and watch a foreign film. I've always hated the expression "kill two birds with one stone" because all I can imagine are these poor, bludgeoned instead I will say that I decided to knock out two tasks at once and asked one of our librarians for a foreign film suggestion. She recommended the Spanish language film Gloria.

I should preface this by the disclaimer that I rarely watch movies lately. I love film - I'd say that it's my second love after literature, with my tastes ranging from French New Wave classics to B-movie campiness. But it's hard to get the time to sit still for nearly two hours or more when one is juggling two classes, two jobs and life itself. I haven't watched a lot of film lately - once in awhile, while on vacation or during a semester break, but mostly I stick to Internet videos related to school projects or catching up on Game of Thrones at midnight, after I am tired of listening to lectures and writing papers for the day. So there is a possibility that my enjoyment of a lovely little Spanish film called Gloria is due to the fact that I am starving for good movies. However, I'm inclined to think that it's just a really good film.

Gloria stars Paulina García, (a Chilean actress I had never heard of but whose other films I will definitely be seeking out for more of her work) as a divorced woman in late middle age who gets involved with an older man, only to find she's more mature than he is. She has grown children of her own, but they have their own lives and while she loves them, she doesn't over-nurture them. Rodolfo, however, not only coddles his grown daughters but regularly allows himself to become entangled in the constant drama of his ex-wife as well. There is push and pull between the two aging lovers, but ultimately, Gloria finds that she is the truly strong one between them and she doesn't need to be held back from enjoying her life by a man who can't take the reins in his own.

There's more to it than that, of course - plenty of great scenes I won't spoil here. Some are infuriating, some are hilarious. I will say, however, that I was most impressed by the way the film did not shy away from the sexuality of a woman in her 50s. There are some truly racy scenes here and a lot of nudity, some of it of the full-frontal variety. Yet Gloria and its titular character are sexy and superb, even with the realism of wrinkles and sagging skin. Outside of the bedroom, García portrays Gloria as vulnerable with a quiet intelligence, so many of her emotions subtly playing across her face. It's a simple film, but thought-provoking and if it seems a little slow-moving at first, it's worth sticking with for the wonderful revelations. The most important of these, of course, is the revelation that Gloria may be lonely, but she has a lot of life left ahead of her and there is still joy worth chasing.

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