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Film Review: Gloria

Hope Madden Hope Madden Film Review: Gloria
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The only film opening this Valentine’s weekend that is truly worthy of your time is Gloria, a Chilean import that is its own kind of coming of age picture.

A magnificent and utterly fearless Pauline Garcia offers a three dimensional performance like few could manage as Gloria, a vibrant woman in her late fifties still interested in living and loving. A new romance offers the opportunity to weigh independence against passion and stability, and watching Gloria sift through the options is mesmerizing.

Expertly written by director Sebastian Lelio and co-scriptor Gonzalo Maza, the film unfolds before you without a hint of contrivance. This is the kind of film where you forget sometimes that there is a script, actors. You feel instead you are wandering through a particularly tempestuous few weeks with one of the most fascinating and genuine creatures on earth.

Enough cannot be said about Garcia’s performance. She is electric, a set of raw emotions ready to burst in the most unexpected and yet perfectly natural ways. Whether a quick weep or a bout of uncontrolled laughter, every scene could go either way. There’s a refreshing acceptance of the absurdity of life about the performance and the film.

Like Garcia herself, the movie boasts a stubborn beauty emerging from a comfortably worn form. There is nothing inauthentic about the picture – not a single scene rings false. The film, like Gloria, embraces joy and opportunity without shying away from heartache, loneliness or disappointment. Lelio unflinchingly observes it all.

This is such an intelligently written film, one that doesn’t judge or pontificate, never steps into sentimentality. Lelio doesn’t surgarcoat the life of an aging, single woman, nor does he find it to be necessarily unpleasant. He’s honest, and he is blessed with a lead performance that can be just as honest, just as fearless, just as open.

The film is a character study, but more than that, it’s a study of life and living. It’s a remarkable piece of work, just like its leading lady.

Gloria opens this weekend at the Drexel Theater. For tickets and information, visit www.drexel.net.

A full slate of movie reviews is available on my website www.maddwolf.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @maddwolf and like me on Facebook at facebook.com/MaddWolfColumbus.

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