How many films have a 53-year-old woman at their core - in just about every single frame? Very few is the answer and even fewer if you try to think of those without sentimentality and schmaltz. Gloria is a Chilean film, directed by first-timer Sebastián Lelio and starring Paulina García in the lead role.
Two good reviews here (Catherine Shoard in the Guardian) and here (Maria Delgado for Sight and Sound) if you need convincing. Gloria is a brave, passionate and caring woman trying to come to terms with middle age and all the changes that brings for herself and her family. She is also daring, somewhat enigmatic and a little self destructive too which gives the film a beguiling, mysterious air.
It's a film that doesn't lose at all by comparison with the other great political films to come out of Chile in the last few years - Pablo Larain's 'Pinochet Trilogy' and Patricio Guzmán's awesome, stunning Nostalgia for the Light. Gloria begins a relationship with Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández) who turns out to be an ex Navy officer and a man who really can't let go of the past. Watch out for the paintballers and the assassination!
Two more things: the amount of drinking and smoking that goes on in this film almost made me break my no alcohol rule for January - what can I say, I'm easily led. Second, if the ending doesn't have you blubbing with happy tears there's probably something very wrong with you.
If I could be bothered to change my 'Best of 2013' again Gloria would be in it. Out on DVD on Feb 10th (UK).