“Gloria”
It’s not easy being an empty-nester divorcee when there’s no “significant other.” You can just go to work, then go home to your small apartment and pet the cat and eat dinner by yourself, or you can go out and try to meet people. But you may not escape your loneliness no matter what you do.
Gloria (Paulina Garcia) is used to dancing alone at the local club in Santiago . She has friends there, and she feels comfortable enough with them to have a few drinks on the weekends. She has a decent desk job during the weekdays. She has two grown children. Her son, Pedro, lives nearby and has a baby boy, but seems to be estranged from his wife. There’s a lot of drama there, and not much comfort. Gloria’s grown daughter is a yoga instructor who seems to have taken up with an itinerant Swedish mountain climber and adventurer. Sure, he’s charming, but is there really any future in it? Well, not any that Gloria would want to envision.
At this “fifty-something” stage in life, everybody has baggage of some kind. And everybody’s sagging somewhere. And physical attractiveness is perhaps not even the first thing you notice any more, anyway. It’s attention. It’s somebody zeroing in on you like you’re the only one in the room, and he just can’t take his eyes off you. Maybe he’s not exactly Prince Charming himself, perhaps he’s even a little older. But there’s something compelling about his being compelled like that.
Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez) used to be in the Navy, and when he got out he started a company that sold supplies and equipment to them. After apparently making some money there, he now owns an amusement park, which includes bungee jumping and paintball. He says he’s unattached, but Gloria learns that there can be different layers of that, too. It seems that Rodolfo, though officially divorced for a year, still supports not only his ex-wife but also their two daughters, all of whom still depend on him both emotionally and financially. Gloria thinks she just might be the reason he needs to finally pull away from this lifelong co-dependency, but alas, she discovers that there’s something about him that doesn’t want to let go, either. He seems willing enough to embark on a clandestine romantic relationship (be prepared to see far more than you would in a Hollywood film of “normal” bodies that are, well, considerably past their prime). But when she tries to introduce him to her family at a birthday gathering, he can’t seem to deal with what he perceives as her lack of attention to him. Gloria wonders if he’s so self-centered that it always has to be about him. But there’s still a part of her that wants to try again to find love again, because there’s something about her that feels insecure in her own skin.
There’s some really random elements to this film: a leftist political rally, a visiting cat that’s hairless and ugly and demanding, a noisy upstairs neighbor whose vociferous arguments, probably alcohol-fueled, weary her into the night, not to mention wearing out whoever is the recipient of these frequent shouting tirades. Gloria’s not exactly a raving beauty, but we like her because she’s so delightfully contradictory: she can be hopping mad and then winsomely exuberant. She dances without inhibition, and sings along unabashedly with the car radio, and lights up after a yoga workout. She’s needy, but she can also decide that she prefers her own company to that of self-deluded wheedlers, obsequious panderers, and those terminally afflicted with serendipitous whimsicality.
Of course, there are those who wouldn’t think “Gloria” would be worth the effort, because she’s just too much like the rest of us. But that’s also precisely her appeal.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas