Friday, January 24, 2014

In 'Gloria,' an Empty Nest, But Not an Empty Life

Gloria sometimes drinks alone but she is not burying her sorrows. Photos courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

IT did not go unnoted or unnoticed at the 51st New York Film Festival that several films featured or starred actresses of a certain age.

That is, women over 50 and, 60. They portray characters who are vital, vivacious and daring, rather than cougarish, spinsterish and matronly. That is, also women who are not robbed of any whiff of sensuality or sexuality.

Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan stars in two of them – “About Time” and “Le Week-end.”

French actress Isabella Huppert is a force of nature in “Abuse of Weakness (“Abus de Faiblesse”). And there is Paulina Garcia’s “Gloria.” It is among the films opening today in the United States and elsewhere (http://www.bit.ly/1awhGvW; see video below).

In a role that was literally tailor-made for her, the Chilean actress plays the title character. Gloria is divorced. Gloria is the mother of grown-and-gone children. Gloria is also having a coming-of-middle-age moment. These are not hot flashes and bursts of temper, but genuine episodes of a woman trying to find her way in her own personal new world order. “What to do now,” she seems to be asking.

She tries some hovering mothering, but quickly goes about her own business when her attempts are rebuffed by her young. Her business takes her to dancing clubs, on trips, to dinners with friends and wherever her fancy takes her. Gloria is lonely, but Gloria is also guileless and given to taking life by the horns.

PG effortlessly delivers a warm, tender and cuddly character portrait. In an understated performance, she never makes Gloria the kind of sympathetic character that one pities. Here is a woman who spent the bulk of her adult life doing one thing and now she has to switch gears or become stalled. It is what it is.

Gloria sees the world pretty clearly – with those “Tootsie"-inspired glasses, how can she not?! – particularly an undeserving suitor. Not to worry, Gloria puts him in his place.

Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández) proves to be a good teacher for Gloria (Paulina Garcia).

In “Gloria,” a smash in Chile, is a pleasing dash of real life without too much melodrama and enough humor to keep a smile on the face.

“Gloria” is rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, drug use and language; in Spanish with Englishe subtitles. Visit http://www.gloriamovie.com to learn more about the film.

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