Film Review: 'Gloria'
The film Gloria by Christian Keller premiered in all of Mexico on January 1st, 2015. The film tells the story of Mexican pop/rock icon Gloria Trevi, from the beginning of her artistic career until her imprisonment in Brazil and her release from jail in Mexico. Although the biopic talks about a controversial subject, it completely separates itself from much of the sensationalism that characterized it when it broke into the media nearly 20 years ago. The film is rather a concise version that makes no judgement against anyone. It should be noted that although the version that the film offers is quite attached to reality, it is not a documentary but a recreation of what happened that manages to stick to the story's core.
As previously mentioned, the story is not interested in prosecuting anyone but rather on showing the human side of the characters, especially that of its protagonist, Gloria Trevi (Sofía Espinosa), who is portrayed as a lively, talented yet flawed young woman. In other words, Gloria is characterized as a musically gifted woman who unfortunately is torn between following one of two paths: doing as her heart says or as her conscious dictates. At the start of the film, Gloria is a teenager who falls in love with a man who is not only much older than her but who is also far more powerful and knowledgeable. Gloria's relationship with Andrade is a destructive one from the beginning. Andrade not only does not return her affections, but also takes advantage of her love for him to obtain more recognition as well as the control of other young girls. Thus, in the movie, Gloria is far from being the malignant woman that was often pointed at by the Mexican media nearly twenty years ago. She is simply portrayed as a woman who on her way to stardom, encounters a powerful man who uses his position to abuse and exploit her. Unfortunately, her youth and inexperience make her insufficiently equipped to resist Andrade's abuse and manipulation. Nonetheless, Gloria's mistakes do not overshadow the fact that she is a talented, charismatic, and driven young woman who makes her dream of becoming a singer come true through hard work and dedication.
Despite Gloria's undeniable talent, the film emphasizes the role that Sergio played in Gloria's development as one of Mexico's most successful singer-songwriters. In the film, we not only learn that he teaches her to play the piano, but he also manages to polish her skills as a spectacular singer-songwriter. He recognizes her talent and pushes her to do her best on stage. Furthermore, she inspires him to create an image of rebelliousness and eccentricity for her that, although not completely real, proves to be highly successful for her career as a pop singer. Although Sergio's abusive behavior towards Gloria and the other girls makes him an undesirable character, his qualities as a gifted musician and his sharp intelligence help the viewer sort of understand Gloria's immense love for him...at least in the first part of the film. However, as the film progresses, Sergio's behavior gradually becomes more erratic as does Gloria's entrapment in her relationship with him.
On the other hand, Gloria is not the only character who finds herself in this situation. Mary Boquitas (Tatiana del Real), Gloria's best friend and Sergio's ex wife, seems to share an almost identical history with Gloria. Mary meets Sergio when she is only a teenager and immediately falls for him. Like Gloria, she dreams of becoming a famous pop singer, but she ends up being only Gloria's personal assistant and main backup singer. Logically, Mary's story follows a similar route as Gloria's as she ends up in jail accused of being one of Sergio's accomplices.
Another notable character is that of Aline's (Ximena Romo Mercado) who can be perceived as the naïve, flirty and easily impressionable teenager. In other words, Aline could simply be seen as the average 14-year old girl who is fascinated by the celebrity world and who likes to dress up, and to experiment with using make up as well as with dating. Contrary to what some people have claimed, Aline is not portrayed this way to excuse Andrade's abusive behavior. On the contrary, the film seems to point out that regardless of a young girl's personality (whether she is flirty or shy), it is illegal and wrong for a man of thirty something to engage in sexual intercourse with her let alone physically and emotionally abuse her.
As you might imagine, Gloria Trevi’s music also plays an important role in the film. Songs like “El recuento de los daños,” “Cómo nace el universo,” and "Dr. Psiquiatra,” are inserted into the script and are accommodated into the narrative in a way that helps to advance the story’s plot. As the screenwriter, Sabina Berman, says, "This is the story of someone who can sing, who has this gift and whose life takes her from one disaster to another and what always saves her is this gift to sing. It can be seen as a fable about the healing power of art.“ A clear example of what Berman notes is, “La papa sin catsup’s” scene, whose purpose is to show Gloria’s jealousy and sadness at seeing Sergio Andrade marrying someone else. The scene fulfills its purpose and it does so with humor while cleverly borrowing elements from the album, Más Turbada que Nunca (from which the single “La papa sin cátsup" comes from) and the film that starred Gloria in the 90s which bears as title the hit’s same name.
Would you be interested in watching Gloria?
Overall, Gloria is a movie worth watching. It contains excellent performances especially those of the protagonists, and it narrates a captivating story that reveals an important commentary about Mexican society, show business, and the abuse of women. In addition, despite being a concise version it is full of little details that provide valuable information about Gloria Trevi’s life and about what surrounded her during the 80's and 90's. Now let's see what other spectators have to say:
"I went in with low expectations because I doubted the film would talk about the truth, and I left pleasantly surprised." - Silvia Marin
“I've been a Gloria Trevi fan since I was 13. I loved the movie because it does not make any judgments against her, and it shows characters that are real. Oh, and of course I liked that it talks about the role the media played in the whole scandal. “ - Daisy Aguilar
"I liked it because it helped to clear my doubts and it’s a very touching story.” - Jesus Aguilar
"I liked the movie because it helps you understand Gloria Trevi’s character and why she was so in love with Andrade. Also, there are a few scenes that are quite funny." - Azela Munguia
"I liked the script which makes the film smooth and entertaining…There were many scenes that I liked ... Gloria's character is very well built (her psychology, her look). The actors’s performances are outstanding. That’s the film’s most attractive feature. The actress who plays Gloria has great charisma, she is a revelation who adds freshness to the film and mesmerizes the viewer. The use of the flashback adds dynamism. I disliked the way Sergio Andrade’s character was built, as it is dangerously close to a parody. I would have also removed one or two songs that just make the film longer. 'Que bueno que no fui Lady Di,' is one of them. And yet, if I have to summarize my experience in a few words, I would say I was pleasantly surprised." - Alvaro Ceballos.
"I liked the movie because it reveals the truth in a very entertaining way. I have always enjoyed listening to her music, and I thought it was fantastic that they included full songs. It helped to clear my doubts about the involvement of the other characters even though they were represented in a very silly manner. My opinion on Trevi didn't change for the better or worse after seeing the film. "- Andrea Somollera
My rating of this film is:
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© 2015 Silvia Munguia