The highpoint of my recent visit to the New York Film Festival was Sebastian Lelio's "Gloria," starring the magnificent Paulina Garcia. The camera is close on her face throughout as this vulnerable, divorced, loving, hard-working fifty-something grandmother navigates her lonely life. She tries to spend time with her children's families, but they're preoccupied with their own lives. She's a cheerful woman who sings lustily to romantic pop ditties in the car. She stays in shape with yoga, but tends to drink too much, especially when she goes out to a local seniors nightclub, where she tries to look cool.
One night a charming fellow divorcee falls for her, and they go on to have great sex. (It's refreshing to see well-toned but realistic middle-aged bodies.) He reads poetry to her that makes her cry. But he's still very connected with his dependent ex-wife and daughters, who demand his support and attention. He can't say no.
Lelio is a gifted intuitive filmmaker who knows how to use visual details to tell his story. And Garcia gives one of the best performances of the year, winning the Silver Bear for Best Actress in Berlin, one that the actors branch of the Academy might appreciate if enough of them pick "Gloria" off their screener piles. That will be distributor Roadside Attractions' goal. Certainly this festival hit and Chilean Oscar entry is one of the stronger contenders for a final foreign film slot.
Review roundup and trailer below.