Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
NYFF ’13: Gloria
is a musical name. Hip readers will know
Umberto Tozzi was topping the international charts long before his pop song was
drastically re-written for Laura Branigan. The bittersweet lyrics of love heard
in Tozzi’s original version will nicely suit the protagonist of Chile’s latest
foreign language Oscar submission. However,
Van Morrison’s “Gloria” never factors in Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria (trailer
screens during the 51st New York Film Festival.
Cumplido is no stranger to discos. She
often haunts them during singles nights.
The fifty-eight year-old divorcee always finds a dance partner for the
night, but she is looking for something more substantial. She thinks she might have found it in Rodolfo
Fernández. They catch each others’ eye across
the dance floor and one thing duly leads to another.
his charm does not evaporate in the morning.
In fact, he is rather determined to pursue a relationship with Cumplido,
but he has issues. His ex-wife and grown
daughters are still unhealthily co-dependent and he continues to enable their
behavior. At least, that is the
charitable interpretation. Regardless,
he gets distinctly flaky at the most inopportune times.
Gloria is small in
scope and thin in narrative development, but it has a dynamite lead in Paulina
García’s Cumplido. Refreshingly, she is nobody’s victim. She is a woman of a certain age with a
reasonable degree of sexual confidence, trying chart a third act for her life,
now that her grown children are preoccupied with their own lives. García brings
out her vulnerability, but consistently plays her smart and resilient, so we
never lose patience with decisions.
are a few laughs here and there (most memorably the odd cat creation story her
housekeeper spins out of Noah’s Ark), but
Gloria a serious film by-and-large, because it addresses some serious
business—love and aging. At times, Lelio
is far too enamored with the daily routine of his central character, but he has
a keen sense of how to use music. When
he finally unleashes Tozzi’s hit tune, it makes the moment. He also shrewdly incorporates a rendition of
Jobim’s “Waters of March,” whose lonesome imagery and hopeful spirit nicely
reflects her alone-in-a-crowd experiences.
Lelio’s one hundred ten minute running time is far
longer than it needs to be. We would most
likely get it just as well somewhere closer to ninety. He probably fell in love with his character
and lead actress, which is understandable.
She carries the film with her boldly revealing performance. Those who have a phobic reaction to
unvarnished nudity should be forewarned, but it will strongly resonate with viewers
who identify with mature characters and their emotional circumstances. Recommended respectfully (but not wildly enthusiastically)
for the target audience, Gloria screens
tonight (10/6) at the Walter Reade and tomorrow (10/7) at the Francesca Beale
as a main slate selection of this year’s NYFF.
Labels: Chilean Cinema, NYFF '13