Gloria ★★★½

This is, without question, Paulina Garcia's film. It says so in the title. She's in every scene of the film, displaying a fearless range with one of the best female performances I can remember. Venice agreed by giving her the Best Actress award.

Gloria is a divorced mother of two in her late 50s, often feeling miserable and alone. Her two children have moved out. She sings depressing songs in the car. She hates the neighbour's hairless cat that always finds it's way into her room. She goes out to the nearby nightclub to dance the night away, drinking and flirting with whoever's available to numb the pain and find some temporary comfort. On one of these nights, she locks eyes with an older man Rodolfo and they instantly hit it off. With each of them being divorced, having baggage from their previous marriage, can a serious relationship realistically happen?

At 105 minutes, this felt long. There's a few instances in the middle act that could've been cut out - either with ineffective scenes dragging on too long, or plot developments hitting the same notes. If it were a 90 minute film, it'd work out for the best. The film redeems itself by the end, even with it's cheesy "Gloria"-sung ending, that celebrates life no matter what your age or situation (I think at one point one of the characters even spells this out). I should mention too that this is a film for adults, both in tone and physicality, with enough nudity and sex to hammer the point home. Unlike my recent watch of the French film Populaire, where a lovely, charming film had a random arthouse sex scene thrown in, these moments feel appropriate for the story it's telling.

Even though I'm not a woman in my late 50s, it's a universal theme that I could relate to, and the performances elevate the average screenplay into something more. It's a reminder to cherish every moment you have on this planet - that it's never too late to try new things or get a fresh start. I recommend a watch, if mainly for Garcia's performance.

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