Ghosting Gloria


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Ghosting Gloria
"Stefania Tortorella makes a delightful heroine, with Gloria switching overnight from sweet but downtrodden store assistant to a woman with the kind of glow that makes everybody want to be near her." | Photo: Courtesy of Fantasia

Is it possible to be happy in life without orgasms? Of course it is. About 5% of people are simply unable to achieve them, whilst others, for a variety of social and religious reasons never try. They don’t all dwell in the depths of despair. But is it possible to be happy without orgasms when one works in a bookshop with somebody as singularly obsessed by them as Sandra (Nenan Pelenur), who is sleeping her way through half the men in Montevideo and expects her friends to do likewise? Gloria’s patience has frayed to the point where she’s ready to experience one just to make the well-intentioned nagging stop But it has never happened. Maybe she just hasn’t found the right lover.

Gloria’s predicament is made more annoying by the fact that he upstairs neighbours just won’t stop having passionate, athletic, clamorous sex, which is seriously interfering with her sleep. It has got so bad that she decides to move to another apartment, which has suddenly become available due to the unexpected death of its owner (whom we see briefly in the pre-credits sequence). As the saying goes, however, one can’t keep a good man down. Their first phantasmagorical encounter raises serious ethical concerns, but Gloria knows what she wants, at least once she’s tried it, against the odds she embarks on a relationship with her ghostly companion. They can’t actually speak to each other and she only knows what he looks like thanks to an old photograph, but that means there’s no time wasted getting to the good stuff.

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Stefania Tortorella makes a delightful heroine, with Gloria switching overnight from sweet but downtrodden store assistant to a woman with the kind of glow that makes everybody want to be near her. It may even thaw the frosty exterior of the manager whom the staff call Mr Asshole. Life gets complicated when a handsome customer starts courting her and it emerges that death is no cure for jealousy, but this twist signals on thing early on: this is Gloria’s story, focused not on any one romance but on her own self-realisation. This signals that we can expect a more that usually sophisticated solution to the central problem of the ghostly love affair: that it’s difficult to find an audience-pleasing happy ever after ending which doesn’t require someone to die.

The warmth and comedy which suffuse this tale are tempered by an awareness of the complexities of real life and there is some content focused on mental health issues which, for all that it’s sensitively handled and ultimately resolved, viewers may find distressing. There’s also an unexpected political sensibility to it, with some scenes implying very dark things about access to wealth and power. Employment rights are taken seriously and all of this gives the film a groundedness that’s rare in romantic comedy, making it much easier to accept the supernatural elements.

With beautifully designed sets and some inspired shot choices, especially within the bookstore, Ghosting Gloria looks fantastic. Special effects are kept simple and Tortorella’s physical acting is sufficiently impressive to make any and all of her future lovers nervous. It’s a joyous film with a healthy attitude to physical pleasure which doesn’t neglect to make room for love.

Reviewed on: 12 Aug 2021
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A woman who has never had an orgasm finally finds the right man. There is just one issue: he’s a ghost.

Director: Marcela Matta, Mauro Sarser

Writer: Mauro Sarser

Starring: Stefania Tortorella

Year: 2021

Runtime: 113 minutes

Country: Uruguay

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