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Review and Roundup: Critics Love 'Gloria,' Chile's Must-See Foreign-Language Oscar Contender

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 8, 2013 at 1:46PM

A review and roundup of "Gloria," Chile's entry for the Foreign-Language Oscar, directed by Sebastian Lelio and starring Paulina Garcia in the title role.
Paulina Garcia as "Gloria"
Paulina Garcia as "Gloria"

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. 

This article is related to: Reviews, Reviews, Gloria

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.