Film and TV

In Gloria, love is a many-splendored thing

Now that people are living so much longer, our self-invention can seemingly go on forever. The heroine of Chilean director Sebastián Lelio's exuberant semi-comedy Gloria is right in the middle of the fifty-something version of that in-betweenness. We join her story already in progress, but get the idea pretty quickly: Gloria (Paulina García) has been divorced for thirteen years, and would, quite simply, like to meet a guy. The movie opens at a dance club filled with people around Gloria's age. The men all look a little more shopworn, maybe a little less moisturized, than the women do. And still the women want them. Gloria does meet a guy, the more-or-less dashing Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), who runs an amusement park where paintball figures prominently. That ought to be a deal-breaker, but Gloria coasts with it. While much of Gloria tracks the ups and downs of the Rodolfo affair, it's really all an excuse for us to get to know the leading lady. García's Gloria is radiant, in an averagely pretty way. She looks her age — whatever that means for a woman in her late fifties in this age of non-ages. But the point is that no matter how young you may feel, the whispering reality is that time is running out. Still, there's no crisis in Gloria, which is what makes it so marvelous. It features several sex scenes in which middle-age bodies are fully revealed yet not gaudily or cruelly displayed. These sequences work as a counterpart to the hungrier, more romantically libidinous ones in Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue Is the Warmest Color — they simmer rather than cook, but they're no less moving.

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Stephanie Zacharek was the principal film critic at the Village Voice from 2013 to 2015. She is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and of the National Society of Film Critics. In 2015 Zacharek was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. Her work also appeared in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press, Dallas Observer and OC Weekly.