THE GLORIAS Review — An Engaging Long Look at the Life of a Feminist Icon
Lisa Johnson Mandell’s The Glorias review says director and co-writer Julie Taymor brings a fanciful, artsy twist to an important biopic.
I wasn’t old enough to be aware of Gloria Steinem’s both celebrated and vilified efforts on behalf of women’s rights. I do remember being lectured, at a conservative church girls’ camp, about the dangers of the ERA. I also remember being extremely uncomfortable and confused by the apparent merging of church and state, something that particular organization claimed not to do. I raised my hand and raised that question, befuddling the lecturers, who extended to me a welcome invitation to leave the meeting and go on a solitary hike. As you can imagine, I relished the punishment and learned a lot that day.
I’ve also learned a lot from the two recent, prominent productions that cover Steinem’s efforts, the first being FX on Hulu’s remarkable Mrs. America limited series, in which Cate Blanchett’s Phyllis Schlafly went up against Rose Byrne’s Steinem. And now, we see four different actresses, two of them Academy Award winners Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore, playing Steinem at different ages. Interestingly enough, they’re often seen together in the film, conversing, observing, assessing and comforting one another, on a magic bus that allegorically drives through Steinem’s life.
The fanciful, artsy inserts, at times unduly distracting, are the signature work of Julie Taymor (The Lion King, Across the Universe, Frida) who directed and co-wrote the script along with Sarah Ruhl. If somewhat distracting, they do provide welcome relief during an almost two-and-a-half hour journey through Steinem’s humble beginnings as an earnest, tap dancing girl to a feminist icon. It’s good to watch it on Amazon Prime, in the privacy of your own home, where you can take breaks at will, rather than in a theater.
The acting across the board is superb, if the story is a wee bit long and disjointed. In addition to Moore and Vikander, look for excellent performances from Timothy Hutton as Gloria’s father, Janelle Monae as Dorothy Pitman Hugues, Bette Midler as Bella Abzug, and Lulu Wilson as a young Steinem.
From an inquisitive young girl in Ohio to a journalist in New York to a Playboy Bunny to a magazine editor and leader of the women’s liberation movement, Steinem’s life and contributions are a worthy subject. I wish I would have known more about her earlier—she would have been a great subject to focus on when I was a young girl hiking alone through the woods.
2 Hours 19 Minutes
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