Saturday, 21 December 2013


A film which uses the medium of cinema in its capacity to entertain, to tell an unentertaining story. Give this scenario to Mike Leigh or Fred Kelemen and you have 'realism', or in other words the year's most depressing film. Sebastian Lelio perhaps achieves something closer to reality than realism, in that he recognises the humble optimism that allows the human mind to stay buoyant, to stay chipper. Gloria, his protagonist, never succumbs to despair, and her travails are illustrated with an unmannered cool that mirrors the thoughtful impassivity that falls over Paulina Garcia's face in some more testing moments. A plain woman in a plain film, and all in plain fact, but filtered through the capacity of cinema to entertain. As Gloria's mind stays buoyant, so too does the film, skimming over its storyline, never risking its footing by delving any deeper, as its central character - our only point of focus in the entire film - herself feels no such urge. So such narrative nonchalance is not a mistake, it's a reflection, and a solid one too. If there are issues to be found in the film, they are to be found in this character, Gloria, which explains why I could find no issues in the film, only in her character. You see, I don't believe that an entertaining film can be made about just anybody, and this Gloria is, truthfully, just anybody. She's completely average, completely ordinary, and perhaps there will be those who can discern some kind of wonder or transcendence or, appropriately, glory in her ordinariness, but I could not. Yet to require some sort of dramatic hook, to ensnare my interest in her story, would be wrong, as such a hook would destroy the purity of Lelio's portrait, so accurate and so sensitive. That entertaining sheen hardens the film for me, and won't allow either my heart or my mind access to that of Gloria. It's not fair to want something from a film that it irrefutably cannot be, but if I had wanted something from Gloria, it'd have been the year's most depressing film.