Review: Blaze of Gloria

Gloria's dance moves: "The Pinky Swear".
Gloria’s dance moves: “The Pinky Swear”.

Chilean cinema is having a moment. For second consecutive year a film from said country gets wide distribution (as No did in 2013), while a number have received VOD distribution or are available in Netflix. Interestingly enough, twenty years after the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship, local filmmakers are finally stepping away from human rights violations and ongoing oppression as topics of choice.

There are a couple of references to the regime in Gloria, but there are as offhanded as irrelevant. The film is a character study of a middle-age divorced woman who still hopes to find a companion. We are not talking about Bridget Jones here. The Gloria of the title looks her age and carries her insecurities close to her vest.

In one of her outings to age-appropriate mingle events, Gloria meets Rodolfo, another divorcee and –at first sight- relationship material. The prince quickly turns into a frog as he continues to put his ex-wife and adult daughters ahead of his new girlfriend. The film follows Gloria as she pits solitude against the undependable suitor, all this while the window of opportunity begins to shut.

There is no much of a plot in Gloria, but the main character is compelling enough to keep the audience invested. The film’s main asset is the protagonist, the fearless Paulina García. The actress shows no sign of vanity as she allows unflattering and intrusive shots a Hollywood performer would never consent to. Furthermore, there is an emotional nakedness that makes García even more approachable.

Without revealing the ending, the final shot of Gloria is one of such unbridled glee, one can’t help but leaving the theatre with a perma-smile in the face. It’s a joy to watch.

Gloria opens tomorrow at the RPL at 9 pm.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.