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gloriaThe movie ends with the Umberto Tozzi hit “Gloria” (the song Laura Branigan famously covered in the States). I suppose that is more uplifting to end on the right note. I just think of this Gloria more as the Van Morrison one (sorry U2 fans, your Gloria might be better suited for the Mandela movie).

For  actresses that don’t think there are good roles for women over 40, maybe they should fly to Chile. This movie gives Paulina Garcia an interesting character and she delivers a stand-out performance. She’s so good it almost makes you forget the few flaws the film has.

Gloria spends her nights dancing up a storm and enjoying the night life in Santiago, despite being lonely. It’s interesting that she can show signs of being sad, but isn’t just moping around. She can laugh and have fun, and isn’t just an older woman that works and goes home to her cat (not that she doesn’t come home to a cat, but…).

She meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), who seems perfect for her. He’s recently divorced, a tad shy, and seems to worship her. It’s great that the audience, right along with Gloria, realizes early on that he’s a bit to attached to his previous wife and manipulative kids. When he walks out on Gloria at a family dinner, it’s odd. Yet his explanation almost makes sense. She had a few glasses of wine and seemed to enjoy reminiscing with her ex-husband as they looked at old wedding photos. The problem arises when we’re supposed to believe Rodolfo can just keep coming and going, and that Gloria would put up with such shenanigans.  I also felt his character needed a bit more depth.

Some might be turned off by some of the things Gloria does. That includes being reckless as she picks up a guy in a casino and wakes up on the beach not knowing what happened. Other times it’s her insensitivity to Rodolfo wanting to be there for his kids (early on when we aren’t on her side yet).

It takes about 15 minutes to get passed the fact that she looks a lot like Dustin Hoffman did as Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie. It’s also a bit slow in its deliberate pacing. In fact, if it weren’t for Garcia’s tour-de-force performance, this would’ve been a rather dull character study.

There were such splendid scenes in this, though. One has her observing a street performer with a skeleton puppet. A few involve paintball guns. It was great hearing her tell Rodolfo to “…grow a pair…and take your toy guns with you.” It was even more fun when she unloads the gun on him and his house. It rivaled the great use of a paintball gun by Patton Oswalt in Big Fan (oops – spoiler alert).

The use of Waters of March being sung by a group at a dinner party was a blast. I would’ve liked the rest of the film to have a bit more of that energy and fun; yet Chile’s entry for Foreign Language film for the Academy Awards is worth seeing.

I’m giving it 2 ½ stars out of 5.

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