An Open Letter to Alan Bennett

Playwright Alan Bennett.  Photo by Cato Lein.

*Warning – contains minor spoilers for The Lady in the Van*

I gather from your work that you don’t have a lot of time for sentimentality, so I’ll try to keep this mostly stern and brief. I may fail in this effort.

I moved to California last summer. For my first thirty years, I lived pretty much exclusively in northern England, mostly recently in Manchester. So while I love it (read, prefer it) out here, there are certain, specific, mostly art-related things I miss about England. The proliferation of your works being amongst these. So I was incredibly happy when the little independent cinema within walking distance of my front door announced they would be showing Lady in the Van. I have just returned from a screening, and felt compelled to jot my thoughts down.

I have admired your writing for about twenty years. I am forever grateful to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Marchant, for showing Talking Heads to a largely indifferent group of thirteen-year-olds. The monologue in question was Lady of Letters, and I was gripped by the dark humor. I was always considered a little strange in school, and quietly laughing at some of the lines didn’t exactly win me any credibility points. But I didn’t care; I had literally never seen anything like it before.

Another vivid memory associated with you is reading a copy of Talking Heads 2 at the bus stop near my sixth form college. I avoided the school bus, as my aforementioned strangeness often drew negative attention. I’d just started my A Level English course, and was handed a copy of Talking Heads 2. So propped up against a fence, a safe distance from pre-pubescent cries of “goth”, I quickly began devouring the monologues I wasn’t already familiar with. One of these was Playing Sandwiches. I will never forget reading the line… “So I took her in the bushes.” I don’t think I’d ever read anything so dark. To this day, both Talking Heads 1 and 2 are amongst my favorite pieces of literature. I revisit them every six months or so, and I always find something different.

While watching The Lady in the Van today, I was reminded of my teenage isolation for various reasons. Sitting amongst twenty or so elderly Californians, I was alone in laughing at jokes concerning M&S, MOTs and stairlifts, but my laugh was loud and proud. As I’ve got older, I’ve learned to embrace my weirdness, and it has won me some wonderful, lifelong friends, not to mention an incredible husband.

The film is a great adaptation. The story, of course, is beautiful. My heart soared every time a former History Boy appeared, and I have to admit I shed a little tear at the shot of the National Theatre (which remains one of my favorite places in the world). But when you wheeled up on a bike at the end of the film, it was like seeing an old friend. Your work has been with me throughout my adult life, and I’m glad you’ve been so prolific that I will probably never stop discovering new things.

I love my life in California. I have the opportunity to explore my capabilities, and start an entirely new life for myself. And as someone who sincerely wishes people “a great day”, I’m received pretty well over here. But today, for a couple of hours, I was reminded of who I used to be, and how my love of your writing has helped me to develop into a woman who northerners might describe as “alright, you”. I would love to thank you in person, but I don’t imagine you Skype very often. And that’s one of the many things I love about you.

With eternal gratitude,


Photo by Cato Lein


The Oscars – My Thoughts

The lack of diversity in this year’s Academy Award nominees has created a lot of noise, to the point where the Academy has finally agreed to do something about it. In a statement from the Academy, they said:

“The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”

You can read the whole thing here, but the whole joining process sounds a little strange. Surely, if the Academy really wanted to change things, they could do it by 2016. It would seem they care more about taking prestige, and more importantly screeners, away from aging white men rather than engaging active, creative, diverse artists.

But it’s short-sighted just to blame the Academy. This is also about the lack of quality, high-profile roles for non-whites. This Buzzfeed article sums it up better than I can.

It will be interesting to see how the next year pans out taking all of this into account. However, this doesn’t mean I won’t be watching the movies that have been nominated. As with previous years, I’m working my way through the Best Film nominees like a cinematic checklist. Below are my thoughts on this year’s crop, but some others that I feel should have been included.

imageThe Big Short – I have to admit, I wasn’t completely drawn in by the trailer, or the concept. When I worked in finance I was exposed to some absolutely detestable people, and wasn’t too keen on watching a film featuring dramatized versions of these complete douchebags. However, this movie is about the good guys. Kind of. Steve Carrell is awesome, and I’m a bit annoyed that Christian Bale got nominated for Best Supporting Actor over him. But this is an ensemble movie, with some fantastic surprises. Give it a chance.

imageBridge of Spies – Will and I saw this on a whim, and it turned out to be one of my favorite movies from last year. It is absolutely not the kind of film I would actively choose to see (Cold War thriller? No, but thanks). But it is genuinely exciting, and I’m so glad the genius Mark Rylance got nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his extraordinary performance.


Brooklyn – I cried at the trailer for this, and the story of a girl moving from where she grew up to America obviously resonated with me. I loved this film. Saoirse Ronan is one of my favorites (I will even defend Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones until my last breath), and if either she or Brie Larson win Best Actress, I’ll be happy. But Julie Walters should have been nominated for something, because she is hilarious.

imageMad Max: Fury Road – I’ve already blogged about how much I love this movie. And Charlize Theron should have received a nod for something. Or the flame-throwing guitar dude. Another exciting film. And absolutely batshit crazy. If this won I would be extremely happy.

The Martian – Still haven’t seen this. It was an option on a flight but I watched Icelandic film Albatross (which was brilliant). I got about 40 pages into the book and got bored of the potato talk. I’m guessing the film isn’t so tuber-centric.

The Revenant – Again, haven’t seen this one yet. From what I can gather, it will probably be the movie to finally get DiCaprio that elusive Oscar. But it’s not even close to passing the Bechdel test.

imageRoom – I cannot say enough good things about this movie. It’s based on one of my favorite books, it is directed by Lenny Abrahamson who made the incredible film Frank, and the two central performances (Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay) are just mind-blowing. Before this film was even released, I joked about putting money on Larson to win the Best Actress Oscar for this. I really, really wish I had. Go see it now, if you haven’t already.

Spotlight – Again, another great ensemble performance. The story is very compelling, but the lack of a meaningful resolution was very disappointing, but not surprising.

Best of the Rest

imageThe Danish Girl – Beautiful film. Eddie Redmayne entrancing as usual. But two minor gripes:
1. How is Alicia Vikander only nominated for Supporting Actress?! She didn’t support anyone in this film; she was a major presence in her own right.
2. One of the leitmotifs sounded like The Jam’s Eton Rifles and was a little distracting.

Carol – Again, absolutely stunning. Blanchett and Mara both gave fantastic performances. And the last ten minutes or so were very moving.

imageAnomalisa – I can’t really top Matt Patches’ review of Anomalisa. But it is the most raw, honest movie I have ever seen. Don’t underestimate it because it looks like something your kid would watch. Seriously, you do NOT want your kid to watch this. So much puppet wang.

My Favorite Books of 2015

I’ve felt extremely fortunate for various reasons this year. Not only have I been granted the rare luxury of free time, I’m also lucky enough to live across the road from a ridiculously well-funded library.

At the time of writing this, I’ve read 99 books this year, and working my way through two others. I’ve collected an interesting batch of stats on what I’ve read, but we’ll save those for another day. Below are my literary highlights of the year, in no particular order. Some were published in 2015, some were not.

Patrick Ness
2015 was the year I finally got around to appreciating the genius of Patrick Ness. I’ve got through three of his books this year, two of which I completely adored.

A Monster Calls may be the book that made me cry the most this year. It was so beautiful and so human; it just ripped a hole in me. On the surface, it’s a story about a young boy dealing with his mother’s cancer, but the story is completely unconventional. It will take you about two hours to read it, and the illustrations are beautiful. Just brace yourself to be quite severely moved.

If that doesn’t convince you, here’s a trailer for the forthcoming movie.

Ness’s 2015 release was The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which is a fantastic spin on the onslaught of sub-par zombie, vampire, werewolf movies which have popped up over the last decade or so. Except this book focuses on the “normal” people in these crazy scenarios, and how supernatural warfare can effect “the rest of us”. It’s insanely brilliant and very clever.


I devoured A Head Full of Ghosts (Paul Tremblay) in a single day. It was like Ghostwatch meets The Exorcist, but with a very modern twist. It was absolutely terrifying for various reasons.

The Loney (Andrew Michael Hurley) is such a perfect British, unsettling novel. The whole thing is just tinged with a sense of unease that you can’t really explain. It’s been nominated for various awards, for good reason.

The Boy Who Drew Monsters (Keith Donohue) has been on my radar since last year, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. It’s so bizarre, and I couldn’t really work out what was going on most of the time. But when things became clearer, it was just so perfect. And one of the best endings I’ve ever read. Haunting.

I’ve also been reading a lot of Shirley Jackson, and the short stories of Daphne du Maurier. Du Maurier’s story, The Old Man, instantly became my favorite short story ever. Seek it out if you can.

Graphic Novels
I’ve read more graphic novels than I normally would this year, largely due to the fantastic selection at the library. Highlights have been Wilson by Daniel Clowes, who I have loved since I was a teenager. Clowes’ sense of humor is just so bleak. I appreciate him more than older I get. I’m very excited for his new book, Patience, which will be released in a few months.

I have also discovered the wonderful artist Lucy Knisley, and have managed to get hold of three of her books this year. Displacement, about a cruise she took with her grandparents, was very sweet and honest. And An Age of License is about Knisley’s travels around Europe. Knisley’s illustrations are colorful and clean, and she’s a hell of a writer.


IMG_0183I’m drawn towards odd fiction. If a book review contains the words “unsettling” or “unnerving”, there’s a chance it will make it onto my “to read” pile at some point. Here are my favorite weird books of the year.

Whilst reading Eileen (Ottessa Moshfegh), I spent a lot of time not really knowing where the book was heading, but very much enjoying the ride. The eponymous character is such an enigmatic misfit that I was happy to follow her.

I’d attempted to listen to the audiobook of Wolf in White Van (John Darnielle) a few times, but for some reason found myself tuning out. So I’m glad I was finally able to give it my full attention. It’s like a dramatic monologue, requiring your full concentration to follow the twisting plot. The intentions of the protagonist aren’t always very clear, but it’s one of those books where everything just falls together, and you want to go back to the start and experience it all over again.

Our Endless Numbered Days (Claire Fuller) is about a young girl, Peggy, who is kidnapped by her survivalist father to go and live in the forest. Peggy’s father convinces her that the world has been destroyed, but Peggy soon finds evidence to the contrary. It’s very weird, and quite similar to Room, and I still think about parts of it now.

The Best of the Rest

IMG_0184A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara) – Epic, heartbreaking, completely engrossing. The author created a world I didn’t want to leave. Not for the faint-hearted, but definitely worth the effort.

Redshirts (John Scalzi) – I almost described this as a Star Trek parody, but I think that devalues the beauty of this book. It’s funny, with lots of sci-fi references, but very moving in places.

Not My Father’s Son – I’m not too keen on autobiographies, but I made an exception for cheeky Scot Alan Cumming. Plus, it was about two quid on Audible, so definitely worth a punt. It’s such a shocking and intensely personal account of Cumming diving into his uncertain family history. It’s incredibly well-written, and consistently surprising.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (Eimear McBride) – Poetic, disturbing, vital. I have a quote from this saved in my phone because it’s just so beautiful.

What a fantastic year. What have your favorites been?

Review – Disgraced, Berkeley Rep

I have a list of my four favorite plays*, and they’ve not really changed over the last few years. But yesterday, I saw a play that joined those hallowed ranks before the curtain had fallen.

Disgraced is the second Pulitzer Prize-winning play I’ve had the honor of watching this year (the first was Between Riverside and Crazy, review can be found here). Previously, I’ve had the egregious misconception that plays that have won such an accolade may be a little “worthy”, expressing ideas and concepts with all the subtlety of a polka-dotted sledgehammer. Boy, was I wrong! Much like Riverside, Disgraced makes the audience constantly question their beliefs and prejudices through entirely believable scenarios and characters.

At the center of the play, we have Amir, a successful New York lawyer, born in America to Muslim parents. Given his negative experiences of the Muslim faith, he renounced his faith as a young person, and is now settled with his blonde, artist wife, Emily. Amir’s nephew, Abe, attempts to persuade Amir to use his legal knowledge to help a local imam, who has been imprisoned for allegedly using funds collected at his mosque for terrorist activities. Encouraged by his wife, Amir reluctantly agrees, but a New York Times article reporting the trial makes it seem as though Amir is representing the imam. As a lapsed Muslim, this is a professional and personal position Amir does not want to be seen in.

Some time later, this article becomes the subject of discussion at a dinner party between a clearly distressed and increasingly drunk Amir, Emily, Amir’s colleague and fellow lawyer Jory, and her husband Isaac, an art dealer with the power to boost Emily’s career. It is this dinner party scene that contained some of the best dialogue I have ever heard. The tense encounter is completely believable; conversation topics such as religion, terrorism, media bias, religious misinterpretation, the Constitution, and domestic violence are all completely viable topics at a meeting of intelligent people, especially when one of them is incredibly inebriated, and has a major religious chip on his shoulder.

I’m aware that I may have done the playwright, Ayad Akhtar, a huge disservice with this clunky synopsis. Ultimately, this is a play about human emotion, and the factors that drive us; whether that be art, religion, career, love, or the pursuit of justice.

Akhtar has created five incredible characters, and a script that constantly amuses, shocks, and sparks ideas. The plot, and the intentions of the characters, are revealed at a perfect pace. But through the first three-quarters, while the tension built to dangerous levels, I couldn’t imagine what the all-important “fucking hell” moment was going to be.** And when it arrived… It’s something I’ll never forget. And on reflection, it was a moment so beautifully seeded in previous dialogue. This is an incredibly well-written script.

The cast are all absolutely fantastic. There is something consistently uneasy about Amir, and Bernard White captures this inner-conflict perfectly. But the star for me was Zakiya Young as Jory. Not only is she an incredibly striking stage-presence, she has the benefit of some of the funniest lines in the piece, and her delivery is flawless.

Huge congratulations to scenic designer John Lee Beatty, who perfectly created a Manhattan apartment, with full balcony, on stage. I never for a second questioned the authenticity of the set. Christine A. Binder’s lighting design was also something to behold, especially when expressing the passage of time. Subtle, but so beautiful.

I cannot recommend Disgraced enough. This was only my second visit to Berkeley Rep, and I already feel spoiled by the sheer quality of their productions. If this gushing review isn’t enough to convince you, then I don’t know what will.

Disgraced is playing at the Roda Theatre, Berkeley Rep, until 27th December. For more information, click here.

*For those interested, the other four plays (in no order) are The Pillowman (McDonagh), Orphans (Kelly), The Last of the Hausmanns (Beresford), and Blackbird (Harrower).

**Some of the best plays  have a moment where I cannot help but look at the floor in shock and go “fucking hell”. For another example, see The Nether (Haley). 

Spooky Special!

I bloody love Halloween. Probably more than I like Christmas. So it’s pretty cool to live in a country where they completely embrace it. Look at this house, just down the street from where we live.

The main reason I love Halloween so much is that I’m slightly obsessed with the supernatural. I prety much always have been. I think I got it from my Grandma, who is convinced she’s seen at least two ghosts in her life. My Grandma also introduced me to the wonders of Tommy Cooper and Morecambe and Wise. In short, she’s an absolute badass.

Anyway, the point of this is to share with you a few recommendations for reading, watching and listening for Halloween. Please feel free to share any obscure terrors with me!

Bewitching Books

IMG_0160The Loney – Andrew Michael Hurley

No, that’s not a spelling mistake. This book really is called The Loney, the name of the mysterious location where this book is based. A teenage boy, Tonto, goes on a pilgrimage to this strange location with his family, a priest, and other strange characters, in the hopes of healing Tonto’s brother, Hanny, of his learning disabilities. Throw in a few weird locals, an unnerving local ceremony, and you can almost hear Edward Woodward’s cries of “Oh Jesus Christ!” on the wind.

For fans of: The Wicker Man, Kill List

imageA Head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay

I thought I’d already mentioned this in the blog, and frankly I can’t believe I haven’t. This is one of my favourite books of this year; I devoured it in a day. A Head Full of Ghosts is about the Barrett family, as they struggle to deal with their oldest daughters mental health problems. When the word “possessed” is mentioned, father of the family John sees a quick money-making opportunity, and the family find themselves the subject of a reality TV show. And then, of course, shit goes bananas.

For fans of: Ghost Watch, The Exorcist 

imageThe Silent Land – Graham Joyce

I will be eternal grateful to Neil Gaiman for recommending this book on his blog. I first read it about four years ago and it has stayed with me ever since. It’s about a couple who go on a skiing holiday, and get caught in an avalanche, they somehow manage to survive. However, the ski resort is now completely empty, and weird things are happening. I think it’s probably the one book I actively had to put down because I was so scared (I should have followed Joey’s advice and put it in the freezer). Joyce died last year of cancer, and I was absolutely heartbroken. I can’t express how atmospheric, terrifying, and ultimately beautiful this book is. It’s wonderful.

For fans of: Neil Gaiman, beautiful fiction

Spooky Sounds

imageThe Same Dog – Robert Aickman (read by Reece Shearsmith)

This story is taken from Aickman’s short story collection, Cold Hand in Mine. I struggle with Robert Aickman. I find some of his “short” stories a little long, and too short on terror. However, this one is incredibly disturbing. It’s a story about a man recalling his youth, and a strange girl he made friends with. When he tries to revisit the place where they met as an adult, things get very peculiar indeed. It’s one of those stories that willl have your bloody running cold by the end, and Shearsmith’s narration is just perfect. It’s available in its entirety on Soundcloud. Click here if you dare!

Radio 4 Fright Nightimage

You can’t really beat Radio 4 for spooky radio plays. Over the years they’ve done amazing adaptations, such as The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, The Exorcist, and a terrific series of scary shorts (which I still regularly listen to) called Fear on Four.

Anyway, this year we’ve got two cracking new adaptations to look forward to. First up is Ring, based on a film that you’ve all hopefully seen already. If not, don’t fear. Yet. The captivating premise of Ring is that there is a video tape that can cause you to die within a few days of watching it. So, of course, people try it, don’t they? What can possibly go wrong? Anyway, I won’t spoil it, but you should definitely listen in on Halloween.

The next adaptation you may not be so familiar with; Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tape. This was originally a TV play (remember those?!) that was broadcast in the 1970s. It’s about a team of scientists who discover that stones can “record” bits of history. Unfortunately, some bits of the history they discover aren’t very pleasant. I bloody love Nigel Kneale, as he’s a bit of a hero of mine, and this adaptation looks very promising indeed. Both plays will be on BBC Radio iPlayer (available worldwide, thank god) for a month or so after the Halloween broadcast.

More info on Fright Night

Link to the original Stone Tape TV play – worth a watch. Incredibly good.

Vile Videos

imageThe Signalman

The BBC used to do this bloody brilliant thing in the 70s called A Ghost Story for Christmas. And rather than them being full of laughable CG ghosts and pointless jump scares, they were properly horrifying. My personal favourite is The Signalman, based on the Charles Dickens ghost story, and starring the delightful Denholm Elliot. Elliot plays an isolated railway signal worker, who is visited by a man who immediately unnerves him. They eventually warm to each other, and our eponymous hero shares a few disturbing stories concerning the railway.

If you watch this, and like it, I’d recommend Whistle and I’ll Come to You (the 1960s one, not the recent one), A Warning to the Curious, and Lost Hearts. There is a lovely box set including some great extras if that’s your bag too.

Link to The Signalman

imageGhosts on the Underground

This is probably my favourite documentary of all time. All the information you need is in the title. There are some seriously creepy stories contained in the film, so if you ever want to travel alone on the tube at night again, you might want to steer clear. But I love it. The one about the weird photograph is especially unnerving.

Link to Ghosts on the Underground

imageThe Woman in Black

No, not the one with Harry Potter. This is another Nigel Kneale masterpiece, based on Susan Hill’s incredible novel. No CG, no happy ending, just out-and-out terror. You probably know the story already; Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, is sent to the mysterious Eel Marsh House to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased client. Things go bump in the night, there’s a curse on the village, it’s all very horrifying. But this film mentally scarred me as a youth. There’s a particular scene (and you’ll know it if/once you’ve seen it) that gave me nightmares for years afterwards. My English teacher made us watch it in our second year of high school. And I’m eternally grateful for it.

The whole movie is available on YouTube, link below. Settle in.

Link to The Woman in Black

26 Foreign Films – Week 8

Film: The House at the End of Time (2013)

Country of origin: Venezuela

image*Sneaks back in, hopes nobody noticed that she was gone.*

Ah yes. Now, where was I?

I’m a huge horror movie fan. But my preferences fall more towards the supernatural side of things, rather than the gorefests which unfortunately make up the majority of recent horror offerings. Personal favourites include The Exorcist (which may not be “scary” any longer, given the countless parodies, but there’s no denying that it’s an unsettling movie), Rosemary’s Baby (the book is one of my favourites too), and the original Nigel Kneale Woman in Black (again, great book).

But anyway, this is beside the point. I was very excited to find a foreign horror movie to fulfil this week’s quota (and in the spookiest month of the year too. Despite the blazing California sunshine). However, The House at the End of Time isn’t exactly what I would consider a supernatural horror film. Throughout, the threat always feels human. And even though there was some scary moments, it’s ultimately a story about a struggling family.

At the start of the film, we meet Dulce (played by Ruddy Rodriguez), just before she finds her husband murdered in the basement. She also catches sight of her son, before he disappears into thin air. Dulce is charged with both of these murders, and is imprisoned. After severing thirty years, she is permitted to return to the house of her nightmares. She is convinced that the house itself is to blame for the murders, and enlists the help of a local priest to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The first thing that struck me about this film, was the baffling decision to not employ an older actress to portray the elderly Dulce, but rather apply questionable make-up to Rodriguez. Maybe with later plot developments, it kind of makes sense, but it just looks really terrible. Almost hysterically so.

Luckily, the plot of the film is very interesting, and undoubtedly original. You just have to stick with it for a while before the mist clears. On the surface, this is yet another haunted house movie, relying on jump scares and dark figures in the periphery. But it turns into so much more than that. Although, to be fair, the highlights of the first half of the film come from the connection the audience forms with this struggling family. The horror comes as much from real life tragedy as it does from spooks.

I really don’t want to give too much away, but this movie is certainly worth your time. It may not be immediately apparent, but it’s a very clever film. The performances are all great too; I’m always impressed when child actors manage to be likeable as well as dramatically convincing, and the young men who play sons Leopoldo and Rodrigo manage this with aplomb (kid from The Babadook, take note. Jeez). Ruddy Rodriguez is fantastic, even with unconvincing “old lady” make-up.

This is writer/director Alejandro Hidalgo’s first movie (according to IMDB anyway), and it’s an extraordinary achievement. And apparently, Venezuela’s first supernatural thriller! Please, give it a watch. By the end, I was genuinely shouting (at the screen, on my own, in an empty apartment), “Fuck, this film is amazing!” Next to “yes, mate”, that’s one of the highest honours a film can receive.

26 Foreign Films – Week 7

Film: Gloria (2013)

Country of origin: Chile

Oh yes, we’re still going. And I’m quite pleased I’ve been able to find such a wide variety of films so far. Well done, Netflix. This week, I watched Gloria, the story of a fiery divorcee.

Gloria isn’t incredibly happy with her life. She has failing eyesight, two children who don’t really consider her to be part of their lives, and a crazy neighbour who rants and raves until the early hours. She tries several things to try and improve her quality of life, such as awkward-looking laughter therapy, and attending dances. It is at one of these dances that a small glimpse of sunlight enters her life, in the form of Rodolfo. Rodolfo is also divorced, but his family are still heavily reliant on him. His mobile constantly rings with innocuous requests from his grown-up daughters.

Gloria, the eponymous character, portrayed by Paulina Garcia, is wonderful. Flawed, devilish, and ultimately fearless, she is incredibly appealing. Extremely watchable (with the exception of one pretty graphic sex scene), she exudes warmth. When Rodolfo begins to treat her with decreasing respect, it’s extremely frustrating for the viewer. But Gloria doesn’t take his shit. Why would she? She’s amazing. And the very final, liberating scene is very satisfying.

Some scenes feel quite voyeuristic. For example, when Gloria attends her son’s birthday, and she is reunited with her ex-husband after thirteen years. When Gloria comments in how beautiful her ex-husband’s new wife is, it perfectly displays how huge her heart is. However, when the alcohol starts flowing, and the old family photo album comes out, emotions run high, and things get extremely uncomfortable. It’s completely believable.

Gloria is a pretty simple film about a woman trying to get the most out of life. I read in a Stephen King short story the other day that when parents see their children grow up and become independent people, it’s almost like a divorce. And it’s a good point, perfectly illustrated in Gloria. The film feels extremely realistic and authentic. And I defy you not to fall in love with this incredible character.