Sunday, March 09, 2014

GLORIA Gets Her Groove Back...Sort Of

Now playing at an art house near you, in my case the Colony Theater in Raleigh:

GLORIA (Dir. Sebastián Lelio, 2013)

Not to be confused with John Cassevettes' 1980 thriller starring Gena Rowlands (or Sydney Lumet’s 1999 remake starring Sharon Stone for that matter), Sebastián Lelio’s GLORIA is a Chilean rom drama that focuses on Paulina García as a 53 year-old divorcée getting her groove back...sort of.

García, who is well known in her native country for tons of TV roles and a few choice film parts, hits the nightclubs and dance clubs of Santiago looking for a new Mr. Right, but as in all such familiar scenarios she ends up making some questionable choices.

It could be thought of as a LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR for the geriatric set. It certainly could very well be remade by Nancy Myers with Diane Keaton as a quasi sequel to that take on the '70s singles bar scene, but I digress.

After some drunken meaningless nights, García begins dating a former Naval officer (Sergio Hernández), who is also recently divorced. In between some steamy sex scenes (this is not a movie for those who don't want to see old people having sex), Hernández is always on the phone to his two grown daughters who he won't tell he's seeing someone new.

García has two grown kids of her own (Diego Fontecilla and Fabiola Zamora), but they're way more independent that Hernández’s, who we only see fleetingly. Fontecilla and Zamora are dealing with their own relationship issues as we see in a family dinner so awkward it makes Hernández disappear - of course, via a phone call from his daughters he never returns from.

Our sometimes frumpy, sometimes vivacious lead puts herself out there fearlessly (full frontal nudity included), and you feel for her all through the highs and lows of new yet very hesitant love, even through the often sloppy and repetitive narrative.

With her almost comical over-sized clear glasses, García brings a lived-in reality (she's not another quirky film loser) to her portrayal of Gloria, a woman who just wants to re-discover her sexuality without the messy complications of youth. Of course, these complications never go away especially in the dog-eat-dog dating scene.

These depressing notions, such as everyone, old or young, makes stupid rash decisions in matters of the heart, ultimately don’t deter García’s Gloria in the end as she finds some empowerment in the form of a paintball gun.

When the music hits our heroine, by way of Umberto Tozzi’s 1979 hit song “Gloria” as sung by Laura Branigan, we see García come alive dancing alone in a club - yes, trying to let it loose to her own perceived theme song. She’s a lady on the verge of liberation, not quite with her thing together, but inching closer.

It has its glorious moments, but GLORIA, like Tozzi’s song goes, leaves us and its protagonist, “hangin’ on the line.”

More later... 

No comments: