May 15, 2019
Chile’s ‘Gloria’ Is A Delightful Alternative To Watching Third-Rate Kevin Costner Spy Films
Did you know that movies come in languages besides English? It’s true! And with February being statistically the worst month to see movies, sometimes you just have to suck it up and read the stupid subtitles, because the only other option you have is Kevin Costner as a spy.
Behold Gloria, a gift from our friends in Chile and the perfect antidote to the winter malaise. This small film about a middle-aged divorcee (Paulina Garcia) trying to re-enter the dating pool is quiet and lovely and full of life and texture — everything that American movies tend to be terrible at this time of year.
Garcia as the titular Gloria seizes you from the first time you see her adorably dorky coke-bottle glasses. On the surface Gloria’s life is a mess. She’s 12 years divorced, has a gray-looking job in an anonymous cubicle farm in Santiago, her ungrateful children don’t call enough. She’s dating a guy who’s passionate and loving but also hung up on his ex-wife and his two grown yet dependant daughters.
Instead of being a woman in need of fixing, director and writer Sebastian Lelio write her as that seriously awesome auntie that everyone wants to have. She’s the kind of woman who lights up a cigarette directly after a yoga class, who gets stoned in her car before attending a wedding, who picks up widowers at dance halls. She performs the greatest walk of shame ever committed to film, an epic journey from the beach where she has awoken, barefoot and hungover, to the swanky hotel where she has been abandoned by her boyfriend and stuck with the bill. Yet even sitting in the hotel lobby, her hair sandy and her dress torn, waiting for her housekeeper to bring the checkbook, she remains oddly triumphant. How much do you want to sit and have a margarita with this woman?
Gloria’s great heroism is that she refuses to be the sad-sack in her own story. She is unbeatable because she chooses to be. Lelio’s script allows her to be maternal without sacrificing her sexiness, allows her to be old without fading into the background, allows her to make stupid mistakes with men without being punished. If that sounds like revolutionary screenwriting that’s because it is in its own quiet way. When we last see Gloria, she’s dancing by herself at that wedding, stoned out of her gourd, a little sad but still pretty awesome. We should all hope to be so marvelous.
It’ll beat the hell out of Kevin Costner any day of the week.