Gloria brings cheers to Berlin

February 11, 2013 - 6:50:43 am

BERLIN: There were cheers for Chilean drama Gloria at the Berlin film festival yesterday, partly out of relief as the annual cinema showcase finally got its first hit after a series of critical misses.

The touching story of a middle aged woman’s quest for love and adventure in modern-day Santiago drew comparisons to Woody Allen for the intimacy of the relationships and to Meryl Streep for the arresting performance of actress Paulina Garcia.

Garcia plays Gloria, a bespectacled 58-year-old divorcee whose children have left home and who goes out to singles night discos, where she dances and flirts and refuses to retreat quietly into the old age.

There she meets Rodolfo, a charming but complex former naval officer in his 60s, who sweeps her off her feet in a whirlwind romance that Gloria believes may turn into something permanent.

As they try to forge a lasting bond, their past lives constantly intrude, in what critics saw as a metaphor for Chile as it emerges from the dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet. Director Sebastian Lelio’s inspiration was his mother and her generation, which is rarely tackled in an industry obsessed with youth.

“I would say that we are all facing what Gloria is facing, but it just happens to some people sooner than others,” he told reporters in Berlin, where Gloria is one of 19 movies in the main competition lineup and the most popular so far. “We all face crossroads in our lives where we can retreat into ourselves or we can hit the dancefloor.”

He likened Gloria to the movie character Rocky Balboa. “The world strikes at her and beats her down, but she manages to get up once more and carry on forward, holding her head up high.” Lelio is unflinching in his portrayal of the romance between Gloria and Rodolfo, which includes passionate sex scenes normally reserved for younger actors. AFP