REVIEW: ‘The Glorias’ is scattered but insightful

Julianne Moore was already partly ready for this role, as just a couple years earlier she played another character named Gloria in “Gloria Bell.”

The Gloria in this movie, though, is the real life Gloria Steinem. In this biopic, written and directed by Julie Taymor, the influential women’s rights advocate is played by several actresses, as the film explores multiple periods of Steinem’s life.

The audience gets to see Steinem’s experiences in childhood, her early jobs as a journalist, and later her involvement with ERA passage efforts. Along with insight into her career works, the film dives into many of the relationships Steinem had, from family to friends.

“The Glorias” isn’t your traditional biographical cinematic experience, and that’s a good thing. Taymor gives the movie an identity by not using as many generic biopic tropes such as a simple chronological story.

Instead the movie uses a framing device where the modern Gloria (Moore) is confronting her past decisions and life moments by speaking directly with younger versions of herself. It’s a welcomed change from the norm, plus thinking back to a person’s younger self and past decisions is something that’s quite relatable.

Where “Glorias” stumbles, though, is in just how scattered it is. While the film offers a nice change of pace with its framing device, the movie is a bit too jumpy in terms of what it centers on.

Courtesy Roadside Attraction, LD Entertainment and Page Fifty-Four Pictures.

The movie wants to cover the highlights, such as the founding of Ms. Magazine or the 77 National Women’s Convention. However, the film also bounces around to many moments throughout the rest of Steinem’s life, from her first time public speaking to writing an opinion piece after the 2016 election.

To an extent, centering on one or the other may have made the film a more enjoyable viewing experience. A movie purely about the early years of Ms. Magazine or the 1977 convention could have been a fascinating procedural picture. Where as a movie all about the relationships Steinem has had over the course of her life may have been wonderfully engrossing.

The movie tries to do a large mix of the two, stretched over nearly two and a half hours, and it becomes a bit muddled. There are great moments abound here, but it all feels a little too sporadic.

The movie remains worthy of a watch, though, thanks to a meaningful script and a cast that delivers in a big way. The two main actresses portraying Steinem during her adult life are Moore and Alicia Vikander, and they each do a phenomenal job in portraying the growth of the activist over years of political experiences.

“The Glorias” could be trimmed or more focused, but as a free feature on Amazon Prime, this is worth one’s time. It’s a fine effort. 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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