Gloria Sebastián Lelio

Gloria Sebastián Lelio
The toast of the Berlin International Film Festival, Gloria is the story of a middle-aged divorcée's attempt to overcome her boredom.

Too bad the film didn't have a great deal of interest in helping its audience overcome theirs.

An overlong, overstuffed, often painfully predictable movie, Gloria's success with international critics is, frankly, baffling. Though it features a genuinely remarkable performance from Paulina Garcìa in the lead role — she offers a brave, subtle, vivid portrayal of a woman hanging on by a thread — there isn't much else on which to recommend it.

This Chilean character study asks many of the same questions as Nicole Holofcener's recent (and extraordinary) Enough Said, but with none of its humour and only a smattering of its wisdom. Like that film, Gloria traces the arc of a middle-aged love affair and delves into the particular challenges associated with this common (but pretty un-Hollywood) situation. What are middle aged pick-up bars like? What does it mean to "date" when one's kids are grown and one's body has begun to wear its age? What is drunken, semi-anonymous sex like for 50-something grandparents? How can we reconcile the years of living alone with starting out fresh with a new partner?

All of these are worthy questions, and indeed might have made for a fascinating film. But the addition of vague, unhelpful asides (incoherent nods to ongoing student protests are merely confusing where they might've been symbolic) and an unsatisfying subplot involving a mentally ill neighbour's hairless cat left me scratching my head.

(Mongrel Media)