‘Gloria,’ a subtly superb middle-aged comedy

Paulina Gracia in the Chilean comedy “Gloria.” (Courtesy of Roadside Attractions)

There’s a simple rule in filmmaking: the main character, whoever it may be, must be likeable. By those standards, Chilean import “Gloria” is a shining success, thanks to a layered and riveting performance from Paulina Garcia as the movie’s middle-aged title character.

It’s not often that the silver screen turns its cameras toward the lives of older protagonists. In a world where the 18-35 age demo is king, why would you? However, “Gloria” is a fearless feature that doesn’t just dip its toe into the world of a single woman hovering around age 60, but dives into it instead.

Gloria is introduced in her natural state, dancing the night away at a saucy Chilean club, sauntering around the dance floor while she tries to find a partner. Gloria isn’t shy. As the movie progresses, the character’s layers are slowly unveiled and the audience sees that Gloria isn’t just a life-loving individual, but a supportive mother and doting grandmother as well. Gloria’s steady life takes on a bit of pace when she meets Rodolfo, an older gentlemen whose divorce has left him humbled and lusting for life. Quickly, he’s entranced by Gloria’s easy-going nature and the two strike up a romance that is simple and fun.

Rodolfo is completely taken by Gloria and wants to know everything about the woman. The two’s relationship grows serious, so serious in fact that Rodolfo meets Gloria’s family including her son, daughter and ex-husband. However, after a jarring exit from a party, Gloria begins to question her relationship with him and eventually discovers that she doesn’t need a significant other to make her happy. She’s perfectly fine on her own. It’s a lesson everyone can learn from, really.

The heart of this movie is found in Garcia; why she isn’t nominated for an Academy Award is completely shocking. Garcia gives Gloria life where other actress would have fallen short, just the simple gesture behind her thick, clear-framed glasses can lift a scene from standard to superb.

At the end of the movie’s 110 minute run-time, people will be wishing they lived their life half as full as Gloria does. “Gloria” opens at the Angelika Dallas Feb. 7.

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