Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Chile/Spain, 2013. Fabula, Nephilim Producciones, Forastero. Screenplay by Sebastian Lelio, Gonzalo Maza. Cinematography by Benjamin Echazarreta. Produced by Luis Collar, Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain. Production Design by Marcela Urivi. Costume Design by Eduardo Castro. Film Editing by Sebastian Lelio, Soledad Salfate. Independent Spirit Awards 2013. National Board of Review Awards 2013. Toronto International Film Festival 2013.
A middle-aged single woman in Santiago, divorced for twelve years and living on her own, deals with the mundane realities of her daily life: the neighbor upstairs is always in a psychotic rage that keeps her up at night, his hairless cat creeping her out by frequently finding his way into her apartment, her grown children live their own lives and she has infrequent chances to see them while working her own unremarkable office job. She does get out from time to time, and when Gloria meets Rodolfo, it’s another chance at love: he is more recently divorced, thinks she is divine and they have good fun together and great sex. He also is a slave to the whims of his spoiled daughters and even his emotionally needy ex-wife, so it’s easy to see that things will get complicated as he becomes more vulnerable and she more independent as they progress. The film never tips the scales of melodrama and yet manages to be as captivating as your favourite soap opera. Gloria’s life plays out in the manner of the kind of South American social realism that has become so popular in the last few years, but combining the subtlety of this film’s directing (including realizations that are never overplayed even when they involve dancing to a terrific pop music soundtrack) with Paulina García‘s expressive, beautiful face and body turns it into something glamorous. With her dazzling smile and searching, intelligent eyes barely hidden behind oversized glasses, Gloria can’t help but be stunning and charismatic, and it’s very easy to be invested in her early on without needing a good reason.