Seed & Spark: ‘Gloria’: Dancing On Her Own

This is a guest post by Amanda Trokan.

[caption id="attachment_4250" align="aligncenter" width="432"]1 Gloria (Paulina Garcia)[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_4251" align="aligncenter" width="432"]2 Girls (Lena Dunham)[/caption]

 

This is not a review of (the life-affirming! Berlin Festival prize-winning! Dare I say glorious?) Chilean comedy-drama Gloria.  No.  This is a call, nay an order, no, no a call (I’m an indecisive lady, right?) for women under 50 to go see a film that depicts a woman over 50 in such a way that you just might leave the theater as excited to get old (well, older, while we’re being polite) as I did.  Not despite its titular character’s spinsterhood, but surprisingly because of it.

Gloria is no kind grandma stepping in to take care of the family when the leading-lady daughter’s marriage falls apart, nor a lonely grandma dealing with an ailing husband, nor a stubborn grandma slowly getting ill herself, nor the sassy single grandma making one-liners about her granddaughter’s sex life from the periphery.  All that, one might expect from Hollywood.  The 58-year-old divorcee grandma in Gloria (played by the vibrant Paulina García) is the center of our story as she casually takes up dating again, but mostly just continues living.  And I mean really living.

I would like to say “living it up” here, but that phrase might suggest living lavish or fabulously.  And while I personally think her life falls under that definition—smoking weed, having sex, romantic weekending—I understand the subjective nature of my opinion on lifestyle choices.  (I tend to see the fun, or at least “interesting experience,” in waking up solo by the sea missing a shoe after a night of gambling—as Gloria does—rather than the shame in it.)  What I objectively mean is: she is existing no differently from a woman of any other age, with some age-specific issues (ex-spouses, children, gastroplasty) but mostly universal, adult ones.

In Gloria, we are swiftly pulled into Gloria’s day-to-day life as she flirts, drinks, dances, deals with the various characters in her apartment complex, gives her blessing to her pregnant daughter who’s moving abroad for love, and embarks upon a new relationship with Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), who has a family of his own to manage.

As we watch Gloria’s flailing, her triumphs, her mistakes, her fun, we can’t help but be reminded (and I was just by typing all those words) of another single lady on a smaller screen and a familiar part of the feminist zeitgeist: Girls’ Hannah Horvath.  Only living in Santiago, Chile, all growed up.  I’ve seen a couple of Gloria reviews mention Girls, but almost always in the context of the film’s sex scenes, the sort not traditionally shown, between bodies wider audiences (or producers) aren’t generally begging to see nude.  But the character similarities don’t end there.  Though they are generations and cultures apart, it continues with their flighty boyfriends, with their finding themselves alone in a dress on a beach without their belongings, with their ability to be irritating and down-to-earth simultaneously, and with their love of dancing.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am not implying direct influence here.  But if I must make the ubiquitous Girls connection in order for the female masses (ew?) to get out and experience this film and understand that getting older is going to be A-OK, that we don’t need to hurry up to find a partner and figure out who we are, that we don’t need Botox or lipo to get naked after 40, that we don’t need to fit into one of two categories, career woman or mom, and that we don’t need to fear being alone (and I don’t just mean single here, I mean physically alone)—well then the ends justify the means.

Here’s the thing, women over 50 should watch it, too.  In the same way that I enjoy watching Girls because it gives me that thank-heavens-I’m-not-dealing-with-that-nonsense anymore feeling, the 50-pluses might get a thrill out of Gloria’s life not being their own anymore, or on the flip side it might completely resonate.  Win, win!  Because while it may seem like some big secret of growing old has been revealed to us in Gloria (or at least to me, a 31-year-old)—namely that we actually will still have those young brains in those old bodies—women of a similar age as Gloria might feel satisfaction seeing themselves or people they know represented more accurately on screen.

You could garner exactly none of this from Gloria, and it’d still be a really good time.  But for me, it was refreshing to see a female-led film where the moral of the story isn’t the girlie best-friendships above all else, nor the incomparable bond with your mom, nor your unconditional devotion to your daughter, nor the knowing nod from your sister.  It is about learning to love dancing on your own.

 


Amanda headshot

Amanda Trokan is a writer turned Seed&Spark Director of Content. Watcher of many   films, lover of some. Winner of 1993 West Road Elementary D.A.R.E. essay and two 2013 Oscar® pools; loser of hair thingies.  Follow @trokan on Twitter for insight into her likes/dislikes/whatever.