Gloria Steinem’s fascinating journey from daughter of a dirt-poor traveling salesman to feminist icon is explored in depth in The Glorias. Adapted by director Julie Taymor and Sarah Ruhl from Steinem’s My Life on the Road, The Glorias takes us on a trip down the long and winding road Steinem traveled on her way to becoming a political activist who broke down barriers and became the face of a movement.
The Glorias is the perfect melding of a visionary filmmaker and subject matter. Writer/director Taymor doesn’t simply expound on the most well-known events in Steinem’s life in this dynamic biopic. Instead, more intimate, personal moments are used to reveal the real Steinem and how being thrust into the forefront of the feminist movement was an uncomfortable fit for someone who never intended to take on that role. As explained throughout The Glorias, Steinem always sought to share the spotlight and embraced the fellowship she found in like-minded women.
Taymor’s film adroitly weaves its way through Steinem’s complex life story in a refreshingly nontraditional manner. The dramatic biopic tells Steinem’s story via four tremendously talented actors (Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Lulu Wilson, and Ryan Keira Armstrong) taking on different years in Gloria’s life. Each play out key events that not only formed the basis of Steinem’s political beliefs but also shaped who Steinem is as a person in and out of the public eye. It’s wild that over the course of the film your opinion of who best captures Steinem’s spirit shifts, and that’s a testament to not only the screenplay but the strength of Moore, Vikander, Wilson, and Armstrong.
The most prominent figures from the decades-long unending struggle for equality and women’s rights also weave their way into the tale. And while the focus remains on Gloria throughout, these other feminist luminaries each receive ample time in the spotlight.
Taymor’s outstanding supporting cast channeling these powerful women includes Bette Midler as Bella Abzug, Janelle Monáe as Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Monica Sanchez as Dolores Huerta, Kimberly Guerrero as Wilma Mankiller, and Lorraine Toussaint as Flo Kennedy. The cast also features Timothy Hutton as Gloria’s father, Leo. Leo was a big dreamer and an eternal optimist whose own wanderlust sparked a desire to travel in Gloria. Her travels exposed her to stories of marginalized women and galvanized her to use her voice to speak out for those who couldn’t.
The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes The Glorias feel all the more timely and necessary. America is mourning the loss of a fierce female warrior, and delving into the life of feminist icon Gloria Steinem at this particular time in history just seems fitting.
The Glorias helps remind us to not back down from battles worth fighting and to keep reaching for the goal of equality for all, even when the immediate prospect of fulfillment appears bleak. As Leo Steinem liked to say, “If you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, it could be wonderful.” That might be overly optimistic, but the film leaves you with the sense that we can still accomplish great things if we persevere.
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Need a little hope and inspiration? Add spending time with The Glorias and its courageous, glass-ceiling breaking, inspirational women to your watch list next to RBG and On the Basis of Sex.
MPAA Rating: R for brief lewd images and some language
Release Date: September 30, 2020 on digital and streaming exclusively on Prime Video
Running Time: 2 hours 19 minutes
Studios: LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions