SEE IT NOW, and see it before the inevitable insufferable American remake. Word will be getting out about Gloria. There’s usually a good turnout for a film about a divorcee going wild—women of a certain age never lost the habit of moviegoing. Instead of self-consciousness and shyness, there’s genuine heat here, which the inevitable-insufferable is certain to geld.
Gloria (Paulina Garcia) is a Santiagoan who has been divorced for 10 years. Out dancing one night, she finds the courtly Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), an ex-Naval officer who now runs a paintball emporium. Director Sebastian Lelio insists that it’s a meeting of bodies as well as minds. Age has seasoned Gloria. She’s getting glaucoma and she has to keep her glasses on when they tryst.
The problem with the relationship is the couple’s families; Gloria’s ex married a younger woman, but this elder man sitting around at a family reunion is a little too strange. And Rodolfo’s ex-wife and grown daughters pester him relentlessly.
Gloria does what the standard American rom-com doesn’t do—it adds some background details of life and politics. The film notes the student unrest current in Chile. Gloria’s family’s welcome to Rodolfo is cooled by the matter of his career in the Navy: the Chilean Navy committed some of the worst crimes of the fascist regime.
Despite the past, this is a culture alive to pleasure: we get the delight of a dirty weekend in Vina del Mar, or a dinner party of good musicians where an impromptu samba breaks out. Rodolfo warms his lover up with verse by the Chilean poet Claudio Bertoni—ignorance would lead me to call the poet “Nerudian” but there may be some more salt there, since Bertoni translates Bukowski. Finally, I like the ardor here with which Gloria looks at everything: a consoling Pisco Sour, a man she’s about to husk out of his clothes or a tiny skeleton marionette wielded by a street performer. She gets on her knees and stares the puppet down. She gets the memento mori joke and has decided not to be amused or afraid.
R; 110 min.
Plays at CineArts Santana Row