In a culture obsessed with youth and perfection, it's rare to catch a film that doesn’t baulk from the question, what happens when youth and its dreams and invulnerability fade away? It's the naïve view of youth that, once aged, sexuality, partying and enjoying life's vices are a thing of the past – but 'Gloria' is here to change all of that.
Gloria is a woman in her late 50s, divorced, empty-nested and determined not to let her loneliness get the better of her. Leading her through a whirlwind of discotheques and singles events, her life becomes a blur of disappointing one-night affairs and casual encounters, until she meets Rodolfo – a new man who her children and ex-husband use to complicate her life even further.
Exploring a subject that tends to be forgotten in mainstream cinema, 'Gloria' bravely and honestly shows the struggle and plight of a woman reaching her middle years - deftly performed by Paulina Garcia. Nothing is ever quite as simple as it may seem; life while lived with frivolity isn't assisted by the freedom of youth but the responsibility of age. This is something her children explicitly point out in one of the most gripping scenes in the film, a family dinner with the parents and their new partners and the children and theirs. This scene proves to be, much like the film, both poignantly funny and sad.
If you're going into this film hoping to hear the 80s classic by Laura Branigan that shares the title, you will not be disappointed. There is a Spanish cover that becomes a motif and is present throughout (good luck getting it out of your head!). Gloria is a family drama presented from a place of hopeful vulnerability. It is director Sebastian Lelio who handles the film with a soft comedic grace, and it's very hard not to be seduced by and empathise with this woman, who is the most truthful character in the film. Once you see it, you'll definitely be calling 'Gloria'.