It's a Guy Thing

We The People

By Asher Luberto

The final words in The Glorias are “we the people,” a fitting end to a biopic that is more activism than movie. Writer-director Julie Taylor’s film is effective in its depiction of Gloria Steinem’s life and advocacy, despite its often-trite script and amateur production values. 

In the film, Steinem’s story is brought to life by a team of women: screenwriter Sarah Ruhl, Lulu Wilson and Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who portray Steinem as a child, and Alicia Vikander and Julianne Moore, who play her older, feistier, more outspoken self. The film begins in California, as young Steinem travels with dad year-round, then it jumps ahead to her life as a journalist in New York. It’s a classic dreamer-in-a-big-city beginning, as Steinem endures sexist interactions with male editors and writers, leaning on her father for support. She soon creates Ms. Magazine and assembles the Avengers of 1970’s feminists, including Bella Abzug (Bette Midler), Dorothy Hughes (Janelle Monae) and Flo Kennedy (Lorraine Toussiant).

 While these moments are powerful, they lack hardship. The screenplay turns brave, messy, empowering women into superheros, unscathed by sexual harassment, and the tone of whimsy that accompanies Steinem’s plight is a rather odd, incoherent choice. She deserves better. As do we, the people. 

(NB: Place the below copy in a separate box)

What do the critics think?

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% based on 90 reviews, with an average rating of 6.38/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Uneven yet engaging, The Glorias honors the work of a pivotal American activist without quite capturing her trailblazing spirit.” On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 58 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.

Katie Walsh of The Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review writing: “Using every tool at her disposal, Taymor crafts an epic tapestry of a remarkable life, paying tribute to the glorious Gloria Steinem.” Christy Lemire of also gave the film a positive review writing: “Just when you think she’s heading into cliched territory, Taymor mixes it up, plays with structure, and subverts your expectations.” Jen Chaney of New York Magazine gave the film a negative review writing: “With a runtime of two and a half hours, it lasts too long and doesn’t go deeply enough to register the way it should.” Brian Lowry of CNN also gave the film a negative review writing: “The key performances are strong, but director/co-writer Julie Taymor’s movie meanders too much, dragging through the beginning and again toward the end.”