Gloria Steinem… what an icon. I was very excited to see The Glorias because of my own personal admiration for this legendary feminist icon. And I’m happy to report that while yes this film is a bit uneven, the performances and the tender moments make it worth while.
What this biographical piece gets right is the feeling and inspiration that is to be derived from Steinem’s life story. Seeing big historical moments and seeing both her and other activists spearhead this ever important movement…. is just so special and true. And luckily we have great performances from both Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander that are true to Steinem.
The Glorias covers Steinem’s life from the time she was a little girl to now. While I know it’s important to recognize where she comes from and to recognize her parents… I have to admit that the parts of the film that focus on Gloria as a kid are the least interesting. The film shines when we have Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore playing Gloria and taking us through huge events in her life.
In my opinion, the two flaws here are the somewhat uneven structure and the several dream like bizarre fantasy sequences. I understand wanting to go inside Gloria’s mind and use a fantasy sequence to depict what she was thinking at that moment, but the ones in this film just feel jarring and strange… not very effective.
But honestly, other than those two things, this film is largely a success. A biography on someone of this nature must carry the feeling of their life’s work and it must relay how crucially important it was and still is. The Glorias does these things successfully.
The feeling of inspiration and empowerment is made real by seeing both the awful sexist behavior and by seeing the powerful reaction that Steinem and her fellow activists have to it. You cannot just show the audience the rallies and the positive moments, you must also show them the reasons why those rallies had to happen.
There are scenes here that deal with sexual harassment, illegal abortion, and women in foreign countries being dehumanized. These scenes are handled with care and, unfortunately, are still feel relevant today because of current world events. I’m glad that more of the film is spent focusing on these issues and on Gloria’s huge involvement in the women’s movement, rather than other things.
Julianne Moore really does nail Gloria, she gets her voice, spirit, and mannerisms completely right. As someone that is a big admirer of hers, it was important to me that whoever plays her gets those basic things right and Moore once again proves here that she is a pro. Alicia Vikander, who I really enjoyed in Tomb Raider, also finds the right accent and physical mannerisms, but not only that, she also seems to find Gloria’s spirit and personality. Both Moore and Vikander do Gloria Steinem justice in this film and I’m so pleased with their accurate, moving portrayals.
Next I must praise Bette Midler because wow she simply knocks it out of the ballpark here! Midler plays her role with such vigor, joy, and an unbreakable gutsy attitude and I loved seeing her thrive in this role. Another cast member that thrives is Lorraine Toussaint. Toussaint is an absolute joy to watch because she is so fearless and approaches almost everything with a killer sense of humor, loved her performance so much. Pretty much everyone does an admirable job with their performances here… you can tell there was a great respect for the material.
The Glorias has a couple flaws, the unevenness and the several bizarre fantasies, but overall, it is a success. It is a success due to the accurate performances and the feeling of true inspiration that comes from the portrayal of these historical events.
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