Gloria Steinem is one of the most influential figures of the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Her story deserves big-screen treatment and is ripe for cinematic exploration. However in Julie Taymor's "The Glorias," style gets in the way of substance, and the audience is given the story of Gloria Steinem without the film ever quite capturing her spirit.
As the title suggests, "The Glorias" tells the story of Gloria Steinem with several actresses depicting her at different times in her life. Lulu Wilson is Gloria as an impressionable child, who cares deeply for her sickly mother (Enid Graham) and her eccentric and lovable father (Timothy Hutton). Julianne Moore depicts Gloria as she is now, with her iconic violet-shaded glasses and a powerful, stoic presence. But most of the film centers on Gloria as a young woman, played by Alicia Vikander, as we see her personal and professional growth, becoming the woman that would ultimately change the world.
Alicia Vikander is simply outstanding, not only capturing the look of Steinem but also altering her voice and overall demeanor. It's an award-worthy turn. As is the rich supporting performance from Timothy Hutton. Julianne Moore is a fantastic choice for the "older" version of Gloria, but isn't given as much to sink her teeth into as Vikander is.
The problem with "The Glorias" is not the acting. It's in the presentation. Based on the memoir of real-life Gloria Steinem, the movie is too artsy, too stylish, and for no appropriate reason. A gimmick that has all of the Glorias in a bus talking with one another, giving younger versions of herself some sage advice from her older self, runs through the length of the two-and-a-half-hour film. The filmmaking in this case distracts from the subject, and that's a real shame. With the bloated run-time, the movie is also terribly uneven and works to undercut any momentum Vikander occasionally injects into her scenes.
"The Glorias" may be worth watching for the performances and for those who may not know or remember Gloria Steinem's role in the feminist movement, but this version of her life - or lives - doesn't do her proper justice. Instead of several Glorias, it would have been more effective to have just focused in on the one that matters, because truly, there is only one Gloria Steinem.
Genre: Drama, Biography, History.
Run Time: 2 hours 27 minutes.
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore, Janelle Monae, Bette Midler, Timothy Hutton, Lulu Wilson.
Based on the book by Gloria Steinem
Written and directed by Julie Taymor ("The Tempest," "Across the Universe," "Frida").
"The Glorias" is On Digital and Streaming Exclusively on Prime Video beginning Wednesday, September 30th, 2020.
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