Paulina García as Gloria in Sebastian Lelio’s film
I fell in love with Gloria dancing.
I wanted to be her. Her vibrant face, her brilliant smile, the way she moved freely, sensuously, in charge of her body, seduced me.One cannot grasp after one viewing all the elements of this film about a woman nearing her 60s, but for me the main pleasure was one of recognition.
This Chilean film shown at the London Film Festival was released on 1 November and by 8 November was only screened in ‘art cinemas’ in spite of glowing reviews. Two friends of mine (males over 70) did not recommend it.
Gloria’s relationship with her adult children is remarkable in its subtlety rarely seen in films about older women. It is not complete estrangement like in The Mother, nor is it complete symbiosis. It is this healthy distance between mother and adult children rarely seen in films. A distance that is felt, with some pain, by the mother but not the children who need their independence. Thus in the scene where Gloria visits her son, a single father, we understand that he is not coping very well. Gloria tries in vain to comfort the crying baby but the son takes him to bed and Gloria is left sitting at the table, powerless, sadly gathering the crumbs of her son’s difficult life.
Through her daughter, who is happier, Gloria is introduced to the trendy ways of life: yoga, laughter therapy. She is also introduced to her daughter’s Swedish lover with whom she has little in common. This sets the scene for Gloria’s loneliness and desire to find a partner.
It would be a shame for me to bias your viewing by my perception of the rest of the film. Its subtleties, the change of moods, the way characters are developed, the weight of the past, the complexities of heterosexual relationships. It would be spoilers of your delight of discovery. All I would like to say is that in this film the woman nearing her 60s is visually and psychologically in the centre. I found myself completely engaged with her and her every move and decision.
Gloria is a film that should be seen with other women. It has so many wonderful moments, so many details that need to be explored in a group. A film that would put to shame the Hollywood romantic comedies about ageing attractive women.
You can still catch Gloria in UK cinemas.
Picture courtesy of BFI.