Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Gloria

Reviews - Gloria


Reviewed By Chris Coombes

Last Sunday's offering at the Keswick Film club was billed as a comedy, laugh-out-loud funny. I didn't find it funny; for me it was thought-provoking, a little irritating in its lack of fluidity, honest (perhaps most revealingly in the sex scenes), brave and ultimately rewarding.

A film from Chile, directed by Sebastian Lelio, it is the story of Gloria, a 58-year old divorcee (played magnificently by Paulina Garcia) looking for something. At first we think the something is sex and/or love but actually she seeks, and appears in the end to find something much more profound – something to do with knowing more about who is she and how she can distinguish between loneliness and being alone.

At one of her regular singles’ disco nights she meets up with newly divorced and hopelessly needy Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez). Of the two, it was his performance that I found bravest – he wears his age and his vulnerability like a big shiny suit and gives us a marvellous opportunity to ponder what it means to grow older and face losing having a significant role in the family. Gloria's grown up children no longer need her, but she needs to continue acting in a caring role. Is this why she perseveres with her relationship with Rodolfo in spite of its obvious flaws and frustrations?

The third star of the film is a cat with no fur that grabs any opportunity to take up residence in Gloria's apartment rather than stay with its problematic owner from upstairs. Initially Gloria finds the cat repulsive, but as a process of change occurs within her she starts to accept the furless creature and to nurture it – as if she is nurturing her developing self. The theme of change is reflected in dinner-table conversation about Chile and how the population has had to adapt to massive social disruption. Through a succinct and insightful conversation between Gloria and her close friends we feel a palpable sense of their struggle and sorrow for what has been lost.

Like the cat that isn't as a cat should be, we understand that the way both Gloria and Rodolfo appear to the outside world is not at all how they feel inside. To some extent they are all still the young hopeful adults they once were, and they want another stab at some of the abandon and freedom of their youth. Hence, our ill-fated couple spend time in a theme park playing games, and Gloria in particular seems to behave quite recklessly taking risks with men, alcohol and drugs.

The film ends on a joyous note that sees Gloria at a wedding party deciding to dance on her own, when she wants to and in her own way. Her rejection of the hapless Rodolfo and his problems has given her valuable experience and some strength. It reminded me that in the final analysis, we’re all on our own. As I said – not funny, but honest.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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