GLORIA. Starring Pauline Garcia, Sergio Hernandez. Rated MA 15+ (Strong sex scenes). Directed by Sebastian Lelio. 103 minutes.

Chilean actress, Pauline Garcia, gives one of those striking performances, at times exuberant, at times doleful, that catches the eye and attention of jury members at international festivals.

She is Gloria.

By the finale, when the familiar song is belted out in all its energy and we read the lyrics of the song, we realise that this was, in all probability, the starting-off point for writer-director, Sebastien, to shape this portrait of Gloria.

We first see her at the dance, aloof, then merging herself amongst the middle-aged, and older, dancers. She catches the eye of an old acquaintance. Yes, Gloria is on the lookout for someone, for love, for companionship. Long-divorced, she is in contact with her son, her baby grandson and her daughter who is about to marry a Swede.

Gloria works in an office, has a nice apartment, with an irritating furless cat intruding, takes care of herself, sings happily while driving, dresses well, is comfortable. Then she meets Rodolfo, himself divorced with two daughters he supports as well as his ex-wife. He owns a theme park and Gloria enjoys a bungee jump. Gloria and Rodolfo click.

Or do they? Or is it just Gloria? The crisis occurs when she takes Rodolfo to her son’s birthday dinner, arranged by the wife of her ex-husband. Everyone is there, a time of memories, joyful, rueful and Rodolfo feels excluded. Gloria is deeply hurt by his behavior. After shunning him, she tries again. She shows her mistrust of him with the paint ball gun which is a feature of his theme park.

Gloria could have given in, taken refuge in drink, pot, self-pity. But… then her song, Gloria, comes on, full of vitality. That will be the next chapter of her life.

Fr Peter Malone is an associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.


Out February 27 2014.

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