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Film Review: “The Glorias” Often Ms. the Mark

Written by: Melanie Addington | October 2nd, 2020

Film poster: “The Glorias”

The Glorias (Julie Taymor, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.

The Glorias takes us on a long, mesmerizing and somewhat confusing journey through Gloria Steinem’s life, from early years to adulthood, closing with recent events. With four actors cast as the feminist icon, we drift between childhood, with Ryan Kiera Armstrong (Wish Upon a Unicorn) and Lulu Wilson (Becky); early days of activism, with Alicia Vikander (Earthquake Bird); and post Ms. Magazine days, with Julianne Moore (Gloria Bell). Here’s the problem with adapting a biography to screen: which moments should stay? What defining moments makeup who Steinem is? Does a simple three-act structure construct any of us? Director Julie Taymor (Across the Universe) takes on this challenge, weaving various timelines intersecting on a metaphorical bus as The Glorias reflects on different essential moments.

And here’s the thing you never want to say about your hero: it doesn’t work. All the actors are great, and Taymor’s attempt is notable. Still, over 2 hours without ever gelling the different “Glorias” into one human, we can understand that fans of her lose nothing. Yet, for new generations of women, they stand a chance to lose out on exploring this real and essential person. I’m conflicted if this is the success or the failure of the film. 

l-r: Alicia Vikander as Gloria Steinem and Janelle Monáe as Dorothy Pitman Hughes in THE GLORIAS. Courtesy of LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions.

Writing even a slightly negative review about this, as a female critic, is painful. But the most exciting moment in the film is when we stop learning her story and watch her observing other people. Steinem has done best when championing that women of all races in America have a united cause but that feminists cannot ignore minority issues. As a white woman, she always helps to amplify the voices of women of color. Her listening skills led a revolution, and the movie does remind us of how far we’ve come because of the women who listened and then spoke up. And there are some genuinely fantastic scenes as we watch a young girl nervous about speaking, and silent when harassed, grow into a woman with a powerful voice. You start the film muddled but, by the end, have a sense of appreciation for her journey.

[The Glorias is available for purchase on and streaming exclusively on Prime Video.].

l-r: Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Lulu Wilson, Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore, Gloria Steinem and director Julie Taymor behind the scenes of THE GLORIAS. Photo Credit: Dan McFadden. Courtesy of LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions.
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Melanie Addington has worked with the Oxford Film Festival since 2006 in various capacities and became Executive Director in August 2015. She also directs, writes, and produces films and serves on the Mississippi Film Alliance as President. She co-founded OxFilm, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council's program to lend equipment to Oxford filmmakers.

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