"Gloria": "Never Stop Dancing" Is the Moral

Fairly early on in Sebastián Lelio's assured and absorbing film, we may catch a detail nicely observed but not overstressed: that the movie's late-middle-aged protagonist can't bend quite as far as her younger yoga classmates, yet seems to exude a certain resiliency nonetheless. As excellently played by Paulina García, her face often framed by big and significant-seeming Tootsie-style glasses, this Gloria gamely goes about the business of claiming her due from life. Obviously no longer a youngster but still very much a seeker of passion and purpose, she also makes rounds at faintly pitiable Santiago singles bars, eventually delving into the vicissitudes of falling for and coping with a suitor who doesn't suit her (Sergio Hernández). Lelio's non-restrictively comedic scenario, scripted by him and Gonzalo Maza, makes a great space for García's wholesale refusal of self-pity, which in turn prompts real dramatic resonance. This was Chile's bid for the foreign-language Oscar, but it didn't make the nomination cut, perhaps for failing to resolve itself as judgmental of or sentimental about its heroine. The idea that a lonely divorcee could also be a person of complexity and dignity does still seem threatening to some American movie decision-makers, but of course they're getting older and lonelier too.

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