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Susan Granger's review of 'Gloria'

Published 3:47 pm, Friday, February 21, 2014
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Set in Santiago, Chile, this is a saga about the romantic travails of attractive, flirtatious, 58-year-old Gloria (Paulina Garcia), who becomes involved with 60-ish Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), the very recently divorced owner of an arcade amusement park.

But, torn between family obligations and personal fulfillment, he is obviously conflicted and clearly not ready for the kind of mature bond for which she so passionately yearns.

Opening in a crowded "singles" nightclub, bespectacled Gloria confidently is sitting at the bar, happily sipping champagne, puffing on a cigarette and surveying the scene unfolding around her until she catches the eye of a man she used to know and moves onto the dance floor. But the next morning and the morning after, she awakens alone. So it's back to the nightclub, where Gloria meets Rodolfo Fernandez, who is immediately attracted to her.

"It's so physical, so concrete -- what happens to me with you," he says.

Explaining that "men love to play war games," Rodolfo happily introduces Gloria to Vertigo Park, yet alludes to the neediness of his ex-wife and two grown daughters who call him incessantly and with whom he obviously has a co-dependent relationship. In turn, Gloria invites Rodolfo to a family birthday party, where she thoughtlessly ignores him, preferring to engage in nostalgia with her ex-husband and his new wife. When Rodolfo plans a romantic getaway to the resort of Vina del Mar, the excursion turns out to be equally disastrous.

Written by Gonzlo Maza and director Sebastian Lelio, it's dominated by the sensual complexity of the indomitable titular character, magnificently played by Garcia, who won the coveted Silver Bear Actress Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Music is a pivotal element throughout the film. As she drives to her office job, Gloria sings along with ballads on the radio -- and the concluding image of her trilling along with Umberto Tozzi's original version of "Gloria" is emotionally uplifting.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Gloria" is an intriguing 8, particularly appealing to a middle-aged female audience.