Review by Camden Ferrell
Upon hearing the word “feminism”, many people will likely think of Gloria Steinem. She is a feminist icon, journalist, and one of the most revolutionary activists of the last few decades. The Glorias is the newest movie from Julie Taymor (Frida), and it is based on the book My Life on the Road by Steinem herself. While this movie has a great cast and subject, it often comes off as bloated and not as revolutionary as the Ms. Steinem.
In this film, we are taken on a reflective road trip through Steinem’s life. We see her childhood and how it eventually got shaped into her influential and radical adulthood. The movie portrays her efforts as a journalist, a feminist, and as a cultivator of change. She led and continues to lead a great life, and it’s a great foundation on which to build this movie.
The script is mostly adequate. Written by Sarah Ruhl and Taymor, a lot of it is standard biopic material. Not to say its inept, a lot of it is actually quite enjoyable, but it falls into the same traps as other films of this genre. It has its occasional great interaction and witty one liner, but it doesn’t do enough to inject energy into this film.
The most outstanding aspect of this film is its performances. Gloria is played by four actresses of different ages. While the child actors are great, the real show stealers are the two adult Glorias. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) plays Gloria in her 20’s, and she perfectly embodies this role. She acts with such empathy and conviction, and she handles a wide range of scenes well. The latter half of the film rests primarily on the shoulders of Julianne Moore’s (Still Alice) Gloria. It doesn’t reach the heights of Vikander’s performance, but it’s another amazing performance to Moore’s already impressive career.
The most noticeable flaw of the film comes from its runtime. It’s a hefty movie that clocks in at nearly two and a half hours, and it doesn’t do enough to completely justify that distinction. There are plenty of scenes that could have been cut or reduced, and some parts feel far less consequential than others. It was slightly unorganized, and it could have benefit from some more edits.
While the movie has a retrospective and somewhat non-linear progression form the start, it makes some daring choices in the film’s final half. Taymor is no stranger to these artistically expressive and daring moments, but it’s an attribute that isn’t entirely consistent in this film. It’s a refreshing change of pace, but these moments stand out, and it disrupts the film’s natural rhythm.
Regardless of its flaws, this is still an informative film about the life of Gloria Steinem. There’s plenty to learn for all ages, and it’s an inspiring film that establishes its social relevance in today’s current social climate. It’s a film that tells the story of one leader as a vehicle to hopefully incite change and inspire a new generation of feminists.
The Glorias may be overly long, and it may blend in with other biopics, but it’s still a great showcase for its leading actresses. It is another decent movie from Taymor, and it’s an enjoyable film for a general audience despite its R rating.
The Glorias is available on Amazon Prime beginning September 30.