As director Sebastian Lelio explained in the q & a following the screening of his 2013 film Gloria , he aimed to create a film firmly and emphatically centered on an aging woman, a figure so often sidelined in cinema. Lelio therefore built the film around actress Paulina Garcia and upon seeing the film it is obvious why, with Garcia delivering an extraordinary performance as the complex but consistently likeable Gloria.
Gloria is depicted as an unpredictable and compulsive character whose desire to find love and companionship results in a constant struggle with an unreliable and fragile family and a similarly unpredictable lover in Rodolfo (perfectly played in a heartbreakingly comical fashion by Sergio Hernandez).
However, lying within Gloria is a warmth and optimism for life that makes her impossible to dislike. All these qualities are wonderfully balanced in Garcia's fantastic performance, proving once and for all that older women deserve a larger spotlight in cinema and perhaps culture as a whole.
Set in the Chilean city Santiago, Lelio really utilises the bustling city environment to full effect. We witness the unrelenting speed of urban life, which constantly threatens to leave Gloria in its wake, while the stunning views of the city from a distance form the backdrop for a number of powerful scenes.
Music also forms a crucial part of the film, playing a key role in the most uplifting moments of the film. Whether it is at a disco, a family singalong or driving to work, Gloria embraces the vibrancy and energy of the wonderful Latin American-themed soundtrack to establish her independence and resilience against the hurdles of growing old.
Lelio has crafted a touching and incredibly honest tale shaped around an often unrepresented subject that addresses fears of aging and the search for love with a spirited sense of optimism. It is a journey of self-discovery, of learning to love not just those around you but of yourself and discovering the central meaning and happiness within your life, a message that is carried throughout the film in an uplifting and often wildly humorous fashion. Paulina Garcia dominates the film, providing an often fragile portrayal of a woman who, though wild and unpredictable, manages to remain constantly charming and likeable.
Keep an eye out too for Lelio's planned English language re-imagining of Gloria, set to star Julianne Moore.