To be sure, Gloria, divorced for over a decade, deserves some luck. Lonesome, unchallenged at her office job, Gloria sings along with the car radio and seeks social interaction at dance clubs where the story first finds her. After a chance meeting and some enjoyable dancing, Gloria decides quite deliberately to pursue a relationship with Rodolfo Fernandez. Newly divorced, Rodolfo isn't as independent as Gloria nor as polite.
Without ever becoming sentimental or feeling sorry for Gloria, co-writer/director Sebastián Lelio captures the bittersweet life she leads in Santiago, Chile. At "Gloria's" Telluride premiere, Lelio said he wanted to make a film about his mother's generation, a kind of love letter, and also to elevate the cheesy '70s disco music the older characters love, as he does. He wrote specifically for the vivacious Paulina Garcia, a brilliant actress as well as a director in her own right. As testimony to her luminous performance, Paulina earned the much-deserved best actor award at the Berlin Film Festival.
Throughout "Gloria," metaphors abound. Again at Telluride, Paulina talked about Gloria using her glasses as a mask between herself and others, between Gloria and the world, her eyesight threatened by glaucoma. Rodolfo runs an amusement park but served as a Chilean naval officer, a position burdened with political associations. Adding further implicit commentary on Chile's political situation, past governments come up in dinner conversation and a demonstration provides the backdrop in one scene on a television and in another scene with Gloria on the streets.
This is a film that moves slowly and yet probes deeply into the human condition. It's a small masterpiece. Chile's submission for best foreign film consideration, "Gloria" is in Spanish with English subtitles. At a Landmark Theatre.