Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chilean import looks at middle age with realistic dignity and grace

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Paulina Garcia attacks the role of Gloria with ferocious honesty.

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Paulina Garcia attacks the role of Gloria with ferocious honesty.

A comedy-drama from Chile, Gloria is an opposites-attract love story. Almost.

Mostly, it's a portrait of a 50-something woman unwilling to relinquish life's pleasures -- dancing, drinking, dope, sex and love -- even as the pursuit of those things might appear unseemly to a casual observer.

The principal draw here is Chilean actress Paulina Garcia, who demonstrates the courage of her character in attacking the role with ferocious honesty.

Gloria is divorced, and the mother of two adult children. She is, at arm's-length, supportive of her son, a single father. She is close to her daughter and a little envious of her relationship with a Swedish mountain climber.

On that score, Gloria has not given up the hunt, frequenting Santiago singles clubs for older adults where she'll enthusiastically boogie to disco tunes better left forgotten.

One such outing results in a hook-up with Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), a somewhat older man whose dormant passions are aroused by Gloria's still-cooking smoulder.

Gloria, after all, is still adventurous enough to participate in a bungee jump and some paintball target practice at the amusement park Rodolfo owns.

But Gloria's antennae are set a-twitch by the news Rodolfo has only been divorced for one year. He is a man who will still put the needs of his overly dependent daughters and his ex-wife ahead of his own.

That leaves Gloria vulnerable. Invited to a rare gathering of Gloria's family, Rodolfo gets nervous and splits, leaving Gloria humiliated.

But she is unbowed. She gives her new boyfriend a second chance, but there are limits to her patience, as Gloria demonstrates in one of the screen's more satisfying kiss-offs.

If you've seen enough Hollywood fare, you may find yourself concerned that director Sebastian Lelio will subject his main character to some kind of horrendous cliché, such as a makeover or a slapstick sex scene or a Viagra joke.

Instead, Leilo admirably gives Gloria her dignity throughout, even if he (like Garcia) is not shy about exposing her fears, desires and unfettered passion.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2014 D3

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