Movie Review: “GLORIA”

I watched Gloria tonight at the Angelika theater and it was a really great movie.  I saw it on the tail end of a first date with a girl which distracted me from parts of it.  Half of my mind was on the first chunk of the film, half of my mind was on how the date was going.  As I plotted on how to hold my date’s hand I watched Paulina Garcia play Gloria, a middle aged divorcée looking for love in Chile.  I don’t know that much about Chile, but that’s not important.  Like most exported films that make it to the USA it was so good that my uneducated understanding of geography and culture didn’t matter.  I wish I was able to take notes while watching so I could detail more of my thoughts for this review, but I didn’t – so here’s what I have.

The woman who plays Gloria shines on the big screen.  It’s really something to watch this actress work.  The film centers on her middle aged search for love.  Gloria is divorced.  She has a few grown children.  Her son has a kid.  Her daughter is about to get married.  Gloria’s on the back end of these adult experiences.  She’s at the moment every parent dreads.  Her human duty to reproduce has been fulfilled.  Her purpose on this planet has been satisfied.  The children she raised are just that – raised – and they do not need her help anymore.  She’s a human being without a mission in a world full of people who need missions.  How does she react?  She hits the fucking town.  The film follows Gloria as she gets drunk, dances, has sex, tries yoga, smokes weed etc.  I liked it so much because it was super positive.  It would be very easy to be depressed by this kind of material.  It can seem futile to look for love when you are 50+.  You’re tired.  You’ve been hurt before.  What’s the point?  Don’t people have too much baggage that late in the game?  Even though this all sounds sad – I left the film feeling invigorated.  It’s a really fun movie.

There is one scene that I think we should discuss further.  The camera follows Gloria in a shopping center and she sees a street performer with a marionette skeleton.  He’s making the skeleton dance to a goofy song with lyrics about death.  I can’t remember if other onlookers in the film or in the audience were laughing – but my date and I certainly were.  It was a comedic image.  The puppeteer really made the skeleton seem alive.  I’m dimwitted enough to find that funny.  But Gloria wasn’t laughing.  She was staring at this skeleton like it was an old friend that stole money from her.  She was staring at the skeleton like she was staring into the face of her own mortality.  The point is this.  Personal attitude and perspective can have a serious effect on your reality.  I see a dancing skeleton and laugh.  Someone else might see it and fill with terror.  Death hangs over everyone – but I would argue that the best way to deal with it is to act as if it’s not a big deal.  It is what it is.  Or maybe not.  I don’t know.  Try to laugh more.  Anyways the rest of the date went well.  I kissed the girl on Houston St. afterwards.

Playing at the Angelika Theater
Directed by Sebastián Lelio
Written by Sebastián Lelio (screenplay), Gonzalo Maza (screenplay)
Starring Paulina García

Charles Griffin Gibson is a humorist, poet, musician, television editor, artist, etc. living in Brooklyn, NY

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