Argentine writer/director Sebastián Lelio's fourth feature film, Gloria, shows us the woes of romantic dalliances during female middle age. Whimsical, confident Gloria Cumplido (Paulina García) is a divorcee who still loves to have fun and refuses to settle down again with just anyone. Her penchant for dancing in nightclubs leads her to encounter a seemingly like-minded spirit named Rodolfo Fernández (Sergio Hernández), who eventually proves himself to be an utter disappointment.
Although Gloria tries her hardest to stave off loneliness--an attempt compounded by the constant bitter rantings of her upstairs neighbor--it is a lingering sensation that creeps in when she wants it to least. With her children out on their own, Gloria does her best to stamp out the void. Moreover, in this particular film, little emphasis is placed on the what Chilean people actually do for a living, and Gloria's nondescript office job is only occasionally mentioned or shown. Thus, it appears she has nothing in the way of fulfillment through a career either.
Spanish/South American culture is also strongly present in terms of how comfortable Lelio is with showing copious amounts of old people nudity/sex. The very first night Gloria encounters Rodolfo, she's all about pouncing, and the result is the sight of several minutes of flaccid flesh, which continues to be a running visual motif throughout the film. Like Gloria, Rodolfo also has a family: two daughters and an ex-wife. The difference between the two of them, however, is that Rodolfo allows his children to control his life far more than Gloria. His lack of total focus on her leads him to abruptly leave a birthday party for Gloria's son, an action that enrages Gloria and causes her to break up with him.
Almost a foreshadowing of their broken relationship is Gloria listening to the radio and hearing someone request Jeanette's "Why Are You Leaving?". In spite of her contempt for Rodolfo, she lets him worm his way back into her semi-broken heart. This time, he takes her on a romantic getaway, leading her to believe that he's finally taken into account her feelings about his over involvement with his children. However, she is duped once again after she throws his cell phone into a bowl of soup and tries to laugh it off as a joke. This prompts Rodolfo to excuse himself to go to the bathroom, though of course he simply vanishes to tend to an emergency with his ex-wife.
Feeling shamed and jilted by Rodolfo's desertion, she goes on a bender involving gambling, makeout sessions with inappropriate men and waking up with a hangover alone on the beach. It becomes clear at this point that Gloria is dealing with some very real shit. Not to mention the fact that her eye doctor has recently informed her that she's showing early signs of glaucoma. To make matters worse, Gloria's beloved daughter, Ana (Fabiola Zamora), is moving to Sweden to be with her boyfriend. Enveloped by isolation, Gloria triumphs over her own forlornness--mainly through the film's incredible soundtrack--and shows that it's possible to enjoy oneself even during the bleakest of circumstances.