Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gloria - see you on the dance floor...

The new Chilean movie, Gloria, is a film that has a unique richness to it, earthiness and a longing to escape.  Like South America itself - promise seems always just outside its grasp. LIke the white peacock in Gloria  - no real colors - no glory (gloria), or the hairless cat - more rat than cat, or like Gloria's romance with Rudolfo - a sham, or her family - living apart ( "me separe" (I am seperated) and alienated they sit around looking at old photographs as if they cared for each other while the ex-husband gets drunk and laments their failed past - that he "should have been there" (at his daughter's graduation) - the way Chile laments its failed past under the dictator Pinoche (about whom it should have done something). Even the street protests were not very riotous and Gloria uses a pretend "paint" gun to shoot at Rudolfo - as if to paint a picture - but paint gun bullets are not real just as, her fun was not real, her love was not real, her Glory (and Chile's Glory) is not real - it's smoke, its blackout sex (rape?) on the beach. 

The first line of the movie is "Are you always this happy?" Gloria seems not to know what to say or how to answer. But what one pretends to be and what one really is can make for one ugly cat or spooky looking peacock or a country that could have been.

Some of the movie's choices provide narrative meat on the bones, provide interest, context, detail, symbols and metaphors. Gloria's oversized glasses, her glaucoma, Rudolfo's gastric by-pass surgery, the skeleton marionette,  the hairless cat, the white peacock. The movie reminded me of Pan's Labyrinth  - odd because, while Gloria is not a fantasy movie, I watched both with a similar amazement and curiosity - like Pan, what would Gloria discover next, what would happen to her, what would she stumble onto and encounter, how would she change as a result, how would her vision change?  

In the end Gloria takes off her glasses - does that mean she can now see clearly or does it mean that she now accepts her (limited) vision of the world and her place in it - imperfect as it may be. Maybe that is why in the end she dances to a song of her own name  - like we all do, dancing alone with whatever vision we have, connected to others with whom we share the dance floor. And maybe that is why despite the obstacles she faces and her heartbreak and struggles there was something strangely uplifting and affirming about the movie. Because none of us has perfect vision, we are all odd hairless cats, both beautiful and ugly at the same time, we all dance somewhat alone and -  are we always this happy? - Yes.

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