“Gloria” is a subtitled six-episode mini-series from French television, featuring an exhausted woman who rightly faces chaos on many fronts. Gloria (Cécile Bois) is a lawyer about to return from maternity leave after eight months at home with her third child. Her beloved husband David (Michael Cohen) is also a partner in their firm. When he walks into court one morning, she has no reason to feel anything but joy for their stable and successful life together.
But David disappears. Accident? Cheating? Another woman? All the possibilities are bouncing as Cecile’s efforts to find out what happened sink deeper and deeper into the proverbial rabbit hole. Old losses and grudges begin to emerge as her marriage, career, children, and extended family crumble or become threatened. Or both. Gloria is smart and resourceful, but soon finds herself overwhelmed by suddenly having to deal with problems and people beyond her knowledge.
Gloria must quickly replace David on a few cases, showing off her professional genius and making useful new friends from a few disreputable clients. Then his supposedly successful business turns out to be deeply in debt, and David’s finances may have become entangled in large-scale criminal activity, now putting their lives in unexpected danger. Added to all of these unsettling surprises is the involvement of a police detective zealously engaged in nailing Gloria for anything within her reach due to an episode in their legal history. Plus the suspense of a wicked anonymous string puller even worse than the one she discovers to be at the center of this crisis, Gaelle Brak (Anne Consigny).
Phew! I’m tired just writing this paragraph. It’s a lot to unpack in six episodes but they get it right. If that summary sounds familiar, it might be because all six “Gloria” episodes are adapted from a 2017 British TV thriller, “Keeping Faith,” which ran for four years.
Even though Gloria and her children face many threats — physical and otherwise — throughout, nothing happens onscreen that’s more graphic than our prime-time American crime dramas. In fact, less. We mostly see Gloria in varying degrees of desperation and frustration as she pounces on every clue or lead, often recklessly and frequently making her situation worse.
Bois’s performance as a woman suddenly under incredible stress, through no fault of her own, is suitably exhausting to watch. We truly feel his desperation and sympathize with his scattered reactions. Many may question his judgment at times, but we remain firmly in his corner. Because it must constantly respond to new surprises coming from all directions, the series conveys considerable intensity to its audience. Two questionable flaws come to mind. Gloria can be blindsided too many times in too many ways for some viewers’ patience. And the most intriguing character of the lot is the quiet, low-key local crime boss Consigny, who deserved more screen time than expected.
Bottom line, “Gloria” is good for a binge, when you crave some accelerated suspense.
“Gloria”, mostly in French with English subtitles, airs on MHz Choice starting Tuesday, June 21.
RATING: 2 out of 4 stars