Paulina García in Sebastián Lelio's Gloria

Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria offers the rare opportunity to see a film that entirely centers on a fifty-something woman who reconnects with herself. In what could easily have turned into a romcom for the Baby Boomer generation if it was an American film, Gloria is instead a nuanced story of a character whose life becomes anything but mundane after 50.

This would never have been accomplished without the remarkable performance of Paulina García, who portrays a woman of vitality, sensuality, and puerility (in the best way possible) in the title role of Gloria, which was written specifically for García. Following a NYFF press screening, Lelio said: “When we had the first idea for the script, before anything was written, we thought ‘This is finally the chance to work with Paulina García,’ an actress I loved and wanted to work with.  So she was Gloria before the script was written. Many crises came up and things changed, but what never changed was that she was Gloria and she was the force around which everything would work.”

Lelio went on to describe his filmmaking goals and working with García: “When you love someone and you know how to see the little details, that's the kind of thing I would like to capture in cinema and, in order to do that, I had to fall in love with Paulina, which was very easy.”

Director Sebastián Lelio

This led to questions on García’s role and the most challenging parts of portraying Gloria, to which she answered: “I think the most difficult thing to do in this character is to be really honest.  Since I spent so much time alone, I was always a little bit dizzy. When you're alone you have to help yourself and I was really trying to understand what's going on.” According to Variety’s review of Gloria, “The role of Gloria is a gift for an actress, and García amply rewards the trust in her abilities with a fearless performance…”

Gloria’s generation is of much interest to Lelio, who sees Chileans currently in their 50s-60s as vital to the country: “I was fascinated with this generation because they are Chile. They became adults just when the dictatorship started. This generation had to recover democracy within themselves when the country got it. What they deal with is so relevant to what the country deals with—struggles to be seen and respected, and collective consciousness of people that are asking to be recognized. Gloria's little individual fight and the collective fight of Chile are twins.”

Director: Sebastián Lelio 
Writers: Sebastián Lelio, Gonzala Maza
Cast: Paulina García, Sergio Hernández, Diego Fontecilla, Fabiola Zamora
Screens: October 6, 7 and 13

NYFF Official Description:
Gloria (Paulina García) is an attractive middle-aged woman who lives alone, sees her children infrequently, and seems to be quietly preparing herself for the infirmities and the loneliness of old age. She goes to dance clubs but maintains a polite remove from all men. Until she meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), a sweet gentleman with whom she decides to take the plunge into romance. Director Sebastián Lelio, co-writer Gonzalo Maza and the wonderful García build their title character and her world one sharp insight and on-the-mark detail and situation at a time. It’s difficult to remember another film as refreshingly frank about sexual desire felt by people of Gloria’s and Rodolfo’s respective ages, or as attentive to the painful dilemma of giving up old habits to make room for a new companion. From its melancholy opening scenes to its believably triumphant ending, this wise, funny movie doesn’t strike a single false note. A Roadside Attraction release.