No, this is not yet another remake of the great 1980 John Cassavetes film that was massacred by Sidney Lumet in his 1999 version of it. This is a contemporary slice of life film, set in Santiago, Chile, that defies the conventions of today’s movies by keeping middle-aged and slightly older characters at its center, and by not bothering to have a straightforward or in any way typical story holding it together.

No, this is not yet another remake of the great 1980 John Cassavetes film that was massacred by Sidney Lumet in his 1999 version of it. This is a contemporary slice of life film, set in Santiago, Chile, that defies the conventions of today’s movies by keeping middle-aged and slightly older characters at its center, and by not bothering to have a straightforward or in any way typical story holding it together.

Gloria (Pauline Garcia) is probably in her mid-50s, divorced, the mother of two adult children. She’s got an attractive, optimistic air about her, smiles a lot, sings along to pop songs on the car radio, regularly goes out to dances, hoping to find a new fella.

She does pretty well on the dance floor and with conversation, which leads to the film’s casual presentation of middle-age lovemaking and nudity, something you don’t get to see very often in today’s cinema. Not to worry, it’s all done tastefully.

Gloria’s life isn’t exactly carefree. Her kids don’t always return her phone calls, and rarely make them on their own; a hideously ugly cat keeps finding its way into her apartment; her upstairs neighbor regularly and loudly carries on what sounds like a one-sided argument deep into many nights.

But then, at one of those dances, she meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), a handsome, successful guy, also divorced, also with kids. And, we find out once they get home for some bedroom activities, he wears a truss! They’re both good dancers, and good kissers, they can both hold their own when, in what seems like typical Chilean behavior, they take part in political discussions over dinner with friends. They appear to be just right for each other.

But then his cell phone rings, and he suddenly becomes a secretive guy. Turns out that almost every time the phone rings – and it rings at practically every inopportune moment – it’s either his ex-wife or his kids, complaining about various family problems, and not only is he something akin to a slave to them, he can’t bring himself to tell them about Gloria, who finds herself on the way to becoming a second banana to whoever is on the other end of those phone calls.

It becomes a film that really gets viewers wrapped up in its people. We like Gloria and Rodolfo; they’re nice people, and we’re rooting for them, we want things to work out. But those phone calls really get in the way, and she becomes unhappy, and we’re unhappy when she’s unhappy.

We, and they, are eventually trapped in a circle of Rodolfo running off to fix some family difficulty, vanishing without a word, leaving Gloria disappointed and then angry, then Rodolfo showing up and trying to apologize, without being able to explain his thoughtless actions, and Gloria taking him back ... until the next time his phone rings.

The questions that keep popping up are why is she so forgiving, and what the heck is wrong with this guy? The plot line, what little of it exists, comes down to he can’t break away from his family, and she can’t get close to hers.

Although Hernandez leaves his portrayal of Rodolfo in an enigmatic light, Garcia makes sure we see and understand all of the ups and downs she goes through via her usually relaxed, always expressive face. The film is frustrating and funny, heartbreaking and hopeful. You realize by the end, that Gloria’s free-spirited outlook on life is something she can always fall back on. You just know that she’s going to be OK.

Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.

GLORIA

Written by Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza; directed by Sebastian Lelio

With Pauline Garcia and Sergio Hernandez

Rated R