by Kyle Arango
In our current climate where there is a strong push towards equality and change, it is important to educate ourselves and listen to those voices. One of the most important topics that has become abundant is woman’s rights and the fight for equality. One of the most prominent figures for this push was Gloria Steinem and her legacy is louder now than it was when she most most prominent. It only makes sense that we finally got a movie about her, but does it live up to her legacy? Unfortunately not. Biopics are tough to pull off and here we have yet another bland rendition that fails to entertain.
The Glorias is a telling of the life and legacy of Gloria Steinem from her days as a child to her impact just this past year as a voice for women’s rights. It’s weird because it feels like we haven’t had a biopic that is literally beginning to end following the life of its subject in a long time. Now I can see why. It is too much! The life of someone like Steinem is definitely one we as an audience would like to know more about, but we don’t need to see everything. Coming in at two hours and twenty minutes, this film is way too long and we see four actresses play the same character at different stages of her life. It loses you after awhile with a lack of consistency as well as boring, bogged down story clichés. After a bit it just feels as if you are watching a Lifetime original movie about the life of Gloria Steinem, and a woman of her stature just deserves so much more. It is a shame to say because there are good aspects to this film, but it can only push the quality of this film so far before the mediocrity sets in.
What I believe really hurts The Glorias actually comes from television. The TV show Mrs. America aired back in April which chronicled the accomplishments of important women during the time of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. One of the featured figures was Gloria Steinem played by Rose Byre and her portrayal as well as the direction Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck took in that series made the show so much more dynamic than this movie. If you had already seen the series, this film just pales in comparison and makes you feel like you are going through a chore watching the same beats be repeated. This is no slight to the actresses who played Steinem in The Glorias, it has everything to do with style and direction. Unfortunately, that means it falls on director Julie Taymor. She just never gets the film the energy it needs to hold your attention and settles for tired clichés to move it along such as “you write like a man” or “a woman couldn’t do that”. The message is appreciated but could be done so much more creatively and it makes you roll your eyes rather than embrace the message.
Moving to the actresses, they are the reason this film doesn’t completely lose you. As Mark Jackson would say “people don’t talk enough about (insert name here)”. In this case that phrase points to both Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore who both play Gloria Steinem at different points of her life. Alicia plays the younger version where we see her go through all the trials and tribulations a woman trying to make it in mid 20th century America. Where she has to battle for recognition and fight through all the sexism that eventually leads her to becoming the activist she is. Vikander is just so captivating as an actress because she brings an innocence and humility that is so hard to possess naturally. You care for her journey and cheer when she stands up to those opposing her. On the opposite side, Julianne Moore continues to show us why she is one of the best actresses ever. She becomes every character she has played and to see her as Steinem is fantastic. You just wish they gave her more to do which leads to the moral of this entire movie, leaving more to be desired.
So the end result for The Glorias is an unfortunate shortcoming of a film for a woman who deserves more. Gloria Steinem means so much to the women’s movement for equal rights and treatment and to see her subjected to bland material is disappointing. Vikander and Moore do their best to lift this film but can only do so much before it just crumbles. By no means is this a bad movie, it is just unremarkable and forgettable and sometimes that is worse than just being bad. If you are interested in Gloria Steinem, watch the series instead.