Gloria was released in 2013, and is co-written and directed by Sebastián Lelio. The movie tells the story of a late middle-aged woman who embarks on a conflicted romance with an older man. She’s feeling lonely – her children are independent, although you have the sense that their lives are not panning out as she might hope, and she feels a bit unanchored and surplus to requirements. She has been separated for many years, and is lonely, with an uninspiring office job. Her upstairs neighbour is noisy, and possibly mentally ill, and a hideous hairless cat keeps turning up in her flat and bothering her for food.

I found the cast reassuringly unstarry, the leads are not Hollywood gorgeous, and Gloria (played by Paulina García) wears a pair of unflattering, enormous glasses throughout. At night Gloria starts going to singles clubs, to dance – she loves music and loves to dance – and to try to meet a man.

When she meets the older Rodolfo, their relationship seems a bit unlikely from the outset, as he’s not someone you might imagine would have caught Gloria’s eye. Nevertheless, they embark on a passionate relationship (complete with plenty of full frontal sex scenes). However, pitfalls lie along the way, as it becomes apparent that Rodolfo remains at the beck and call of his adult daughters (in contrast to Gloria’s family life).

The film has a great soundtrack, and some fabulous set pieces, with some hands-over-the-eyes scenes (not nudity related!). Bittersweet, with moments of melancholy humour, the ending is perfect and not a little heart-warming.

I followed up with Gloria Bell, a US 2018 remake of the film, starring the more obviously beautiful Julianne Moore. Unusually (I think!) the remake is also written and directed by Lelio. It’s very faithful to the original, although Rodolfo is now called Arnold, which amused me for some reason.

One reviewer notably commented on the fact that the movie (in both its iterations) can’t be accused of failing the Bechdel test, and it was refreshingly unusual, in both versions, to see a late middle-aged woman carrying a film.

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  1. I always find it disconcerting when directors cast very attractive actors or actresses as characters who just shouldn’t look like that. Appreciate your “unstarry” characterization. Makes me want to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

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