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‘Gloria’: A fiftysomething woman’s good life gets better

An older man (Sergio Hernandez) brings fun inlife free-spirited divorcee (PaulinGarcia) “Gloria.”  |   ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

An older man (Sergio Hernandez) brings fun into the life of a free-spirited divorcee (Paulina Garcia) in “Gloria.” | ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

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‘GLORIA’ ★★★1⁄2

Gloria Paulina Garcia

Rodolfo Sergio Hernandez

Pedro Diego Fontecilla

Ana Fabiola Zamora

Roadside Attractions presents a film directed by Sebastian Lelio and written by Lelio and Gonzalo Maza. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 110 minutes. Rated R (for sexual content, some graphic nudity, drug use and language). Opens Friday at Landmark Century and CineArts in Evanston.

Updated: March 8, 2014 6:10AM

Times passes, and one day you find yourself of a certain age and in a life situation that perhaps you had not expected but have learned how to manage. Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s “Gloria” examines this chapter in the life of a free-spirited, fiftysomething divorcee. (It was Chile’s foreign-language Oscar entry but did not make the final nominations.)

Gloria, played with subtle exuberance by Paulina Garcia, has built a solid life for herself. She is close to her grown children: single dad Pedro (Diego Fontecilla) and daughter Ana (Fabiola Zamora), who has plans to move to Sweden with her ski-bum boyfriend. She has a well-paying if dull office job, she lives in a nice apartment and at night she spends time at a singles bar in Santiago, where she meets a fellow divorcee, the silver-haired Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez).

Gloria is experiencing a mid-life crisis but has a certain confidence; she is not one for self-pity. Her way of dressing is a bit off (she resembles Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie) but she still manages to look stylish. But something is missing in her life until she meets the somewhat older Rodolfo, who is straightforward and charming.

The relationship flourishes. They have fun together and are sexually compatible. But Rodolfo, only a year divorced, comes with baggage — he is still tied financially and emotionally to his ex-wife and grown daughters, and the past begins to get in the way.

It is to Lelio’s credit that he steers clear of stereotypes and lets the story unfold organically without judgment or sentimentality. There is an unflinching honesty and intelligence here.

Lelio also uses music to great effect. A scene in which Gloria listens as friends sing Antonio Carlos Jobim’s lovely “Waters of March” is mesmerizing.

The film belongs to Garcia, who is in literally every shot. Wafting over Garcia’s face at different moments are contentment, frustration, loneliness, disappointment, happiness. The final scenes pulsate with hope. Love the second time around may be a challenge, but it won’t keep this good woman down.

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