The narrative ambitions are modest at best in the Chilean drama Gloria, which opens on Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre, but an outstanding lead performance and a few really stirring images of sex between seniors make this film a must-see for forward-thinking older folks.
The film follows the eponymous Gloria (Paulina Garcia) 10 or 12 years after a divorce, hitting up discos on the reg and entering into a heated relationship with an amusement park owner/former military man named Rodolfo, whom she meets at a club which caters strictly to the 50+ set. Gloria and Rodolfo seem to be getting along fine — the sex sure is impassioned — but Rodolfo's enduring co-dependence with his adult daughters leads to some emotional snafus. He straight-up abandons her twice, inexcusably, and Gloria realizes that she doesn't want or need to put up with a pathetic man's bullshit at this point in her life.
The movie just basically follows Gloria around for a while. The passage of time is neither all that clear nor all that relevant. The film does an adequate job of portraying a few universal questions and concerns particular to women of a certain age and demographic. It's been said before that the rarity of films centrally focused on older women means that we should greet the few examples with open arms and hearty congratulations, and in theory I wholeheartedly agree. But aside from Garcia's fantastic performance, which is by turns tender, joyous and heartbroken — plus she's got the droopy eyes, thin lips and long face that recalls Molly Shannon, Diane Keaton and Tina Fey — Gloria doesn't seem to achieve or aspire to all that much.