‘The Glorias’ Evaluate: Hear Them Roar
There is so much going on in “The Glorias,” an extremely well-intentioned biopic based on Gloria Steinem’s 2015 memoir, “My Life on the Road”. Like the woman it portrays, the film is constantly on the move. In her book, Steinem recalled how her father, a good-natured if unhappy salesman who never had his family rooted in one place, imprinted them with a love of travel. Encounters with new places and people can unsettle our assumptions, she wrote. To be on the way “specified”, which prevents us from seeking refuge in the known “generalities”. Directed by Julie Taymor, The Glorias never really deals with this idea and follows the contours of a long life so eventful and accomplished that the end result looks like a skilfully produced highlight role that lasts more than two hours .
We see Steinem as a dreamy kid (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) and a young teenager (Lulu Wilson) as their parents argue over money and eventually split up, leaving their mother (Enid Graham) succumbing to depression and hallucinations – their ambitions are disappointed, her mind broken. Steinem’s father (Timothy Hutton) is portrayed as an exuberant, shambolic presence who plans to make crazy money and gives little Gloria a heaped scoop of ice cream for dinner in front of her broccoli.
Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore play the adult Gloria, both impeccably dressed and handsome, even if their talents are limited by a schematic script by Taymor and playwright Sarah Ruhl. Steinem quickly moves from post-college in India, where women share their experiences, to a career as a journalist supported by male colleagues whose idea is a compliment to tell her how pretty she is and that she ” like a man. ”She reprimands an editor who warns that writing a story about abortion would associate her with“ those crazy women ”:“ I’m one of those crazy women, ”says the Vikander version of Gloria.
And so an activist is born who learns to find her voice among other feminists, including Dorthy Pitman Hughes (Janelle Monáe), Flo Kennedy (Lorraine Toussaint), Wilma Mankiller (Kimberly Guerrero) and Bella Abzug (Bette Midler). The intersectional core of the movement is rightly emphasized, but in an evident effort to make this film as educational and inspiring as possible, the dialogue becomes laden with persistent representation.
“The Glorias” is beautifully shot by Rodrigo Prieto. The colors are pale and desaturated in Steinem’s wandering childhood, and become more luscious and vivid as she becomes her own. The film also contains some surrealist interludes. One of them is a phantasmagoria that descends like a blood-red curtain in the middle of an insulting interview with Steinem by a screaming man drawn into a “Wizard of Oz” tornado while the Glorias look back. Another is calmer and more predictable: a moving image of a bus with all the Glorias sitting and calming each other down. It’s an imagination that feels sweet and sincere, but also gently condescending.
Valued R for the righteous. Running time: 2 hours 19 minutes. Stream on Prime Video; Buy from iTunes, Google Play, and other streaming platforms.