Gloria (Julianne Moore) is a fifty-something single woman who's
still trying to figure out what to do after the people around her grow up.
She has a son, Peter (Michael Cera), who's taking care of the baby
while his wife is off somewhere “finding herself.”
Every time Gloria offers to help with the baby, like put him to
bed, Peter insists it'll be easier if he does it.
He seems to be fairly miserable, as well as controlling, and
standoffish, so Gloria doesn't have much opportunity to practice her
materal instincts, much less develop any grandmotherly habits.
Her grown daughter, Anne (Caren Pistorius), isn't much warmer.
She's a yoga instructor who's fallen in love with a Swedish surfer
guy, who literally travels the world looking for the next big wave.
When she finds out she's pregnant, Swedish Surfer Dude sends a
sweet e-mail inviting her to come to Sweden to live, so she does.
At the airport, Gloria weeps like she'll never see her again.
At the very least, we have no idea how long it might be.
Gloria works as some kind of insurance adjustor, working sometimes
in a small cubicle and sometimes from home.
The only close friend she had from work got laid off shortly after
she started complaining about lack of retirement benefits.
What's fun in Gloria's life? Dancing.
She loves pop music---sings along in the car to the oldies---and
loves going to dance clubs at night. She
finds herself dancing with strange men, but it doesn't bother her inside
the club, it's safe enough. But
weird things begin to happen when she meets Arnold (John Turturro), and
agrees to see him outside the club.
Though Arnold insists he's divorced, he seems to get these frequent
phone calls from his needy ex-spouse, or one of his two equally needy
grown daughters. It's obvious
he's still very connected with them. And
that makes him precipitously ambivalent about being with Gloria.
Gloria tries to work through his inconsistent attentiveness, even
inviting him to her son's birthday party, where her ex-husband and his new
wife also appear. Everybody
seems to get along OK, but the setting obviously bothers Arnold, who
apparently can't deal with not being Gloria's sole focus.
This movie is a re-make for Director Sebastian Lelio; it was
Chile's official submission to the 2014 Oscars as best foreign film.
Though the national origin has changed, the primary themes have
not. We're still dealing with
loneliness in the midst of crowds of strangers.
We're still holding up the tension between isolation and
connectivity in personal relationships.
And we're still having to discover personal identity, even in
middle age. It's not LOL
funny. The romance is tinged
with desperation and acquires a sour aftertaste.
But at the end, you still want to like Gloria, because she never
gives up trying to expand her horizons.
It's just that freedom sometimes feels more like free falling.