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Parents' Guide to

The Glorias

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Steinem biopic is innovative but slow; mature themes.

Movie R 2020 147 minutes
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Gloria Steinem is synonymous with "nontraditional" and "boundary pusher," so an unconventional biopic that challenges our expectations best suits her -- but that doesn't mean it's worthy of her. In this film by Julie Taymor, a director known for her imaginative productions, we meet four Glorias: a child (Armstrong), a teen (Wilson), a twentysomething (Vikander), and an older version (Moore). They travel through Steinem's life together on a bus, revisiting her (their?) past. It's essentially an extended answer to the age-old interview question: "What advice would you give your younger self?" Since everything is depicted through Steinem's eyes (the movie was adapted from her autobiography, and she served as a consulting producer), all the hurts and self-doubts come through. It's liberating to see that even this trailblazer had to grit her teeth to deal with the onslaught of negativity and attacks that came her way to do what she felt she must to create equality among all humankind.

Unfortunately, even with its artistic flourishes -- for instance, a sexist talk show interview turns into a scarlet Wizard of Oz tornado -- Taymor's version of Steinem's story is somewhat stale. Hulu's Mrs. America told Steinem's story with more punch and more clarity. And at 2 1/2 hours long, some tightening would have been advisable. Still, seeing the big picture does offer a more thorough examination of how a legend is created. From the influence of a huckster father, to the impact of living with a mother who gave up her passion to her own emotional detriment, to all the harassment she received over the years from pervy men and scowling women -- and all the people from all over the world Steinem listened to along the way -- the bad and the good created a dynamo who changed the world. And that's certainly worth seeing.

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