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Gloria Bell Movie Review

Gloria Bell (2019) movie poster Gloria Bell

Theatrical Release: March 8, 2019 / Running Time: 101 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Sebastián Lelio / Writers: Sebastián Lelio (screenplay), Alice Johnson Boher (adapted screenplay), Gonzalo Maza (story)

Cast: Julianne Moore (Gloria), John Turturro (Arnold), Caren Pistorius (Anne), Michael Cera (Peter), Brad Garrett (Dustin), Holland Taylor (Hillary), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Fiona), Rita Wilson (Vicky), Chris Mulkey (Charlie), Cassi Thompson (Virginia), Tyson Ritter (Neighbor), Jesse Erwin (Theo), Sean Astin (Jeremy), Barbara Sukowa (Melinda), Alanna Ubach (Veronica)


The extremely long filmmaking career of Woody Allen may be in jeopardy,
but Allen's brand of cinema can continue to be found in places like Gloria Bell, romantic dramedy written and directed by Chile's Sebastián Lelio, remaking his own 2013 Spanish language film Gloria.

This time around, Julianne Moore plays the titular protagonist, a good-looking divorcée in her fifties who likes to sing along to music in her car and go dancing at nightclubs geared toward her demographic. That might not sound like much of a character or a story, but Moore demonstrates otherwise in one of the better performances in her decades of filling lead roles.

Gloria Bell is a freeform character study. You can categorize it as a romance film because sparks do fly between our heroine and Arnold (John Turturro), a man who has only been divorced one year and is still very much tied to his ex-wife and two grown daughters. But the relationship certainly doesn't define Gloria, who seems confused by Arnold's nervous apology after some time of radio silence following their up until then one-night stand.

Julianne Moore stars as Gloria Bell in Sebastián Lelio's remake of his 2013 film "Gloria."

Arnold runs a successful paintball park. I don't believe we ever find out what Gloria does for work. We see her in an office and lending a sympathetic ear to a co-worker (Barbara Sukowa) but she is even less defined by her profession than she is by the new man in her life.

Gloria likes to maintain a presence in the lives of her own adult children, her son Peter (Michael Cera), a new father whose young marriage seems to be falling apart under the surface, and yoga professor Anne (Caren Pistorius), who's in something resembling a relationship with a Swedish man who lives in Sweden.

Gloria and Arnold's relationship, marked by a series of starts and stops, takes as much of the spotlight as anything here. It's an honest look at middle-aged romance, unfolding not with big outlandish twists but small moments sweet and sour. We share Gloria's mixed feelings about the relationship, but go along for the ride, with nothing else more pressing narratively than coping with a loud neighbor and an eye doctor visit that yields a prescription for daily eyedrops in perpetuity. It's kind of bizarre that in a medium as productive and diverse as film an earnest portrait of mid-life love seems so unconventional and unusual.

Gloria (Julianne Moore) shares a laugh with women in class.

This marks the second English language film in as many years for Lelio,
following his A Fantastic Woman winning Best Foreign Language Film at the February 2018 Oscars. He doesn't seem to have any lingual or cultural obstacles here, though perhaps the credited American adapter Alice Johnson Boher deserves some credit on this front.

The film is populated by popular songs from decades past that you'll recognize as our heroine floats on the dance floor from one white-haired man to another or simply sings along in her car. The final song is "Gloria", Laura Branigan's 1982 hit cover of a late-'70s Italian tune. The original Umberto Tozzi song was apparently used in Lelio's original Gloria and it's hard to imagine it not being, since the lyrics of the English version (and to a lesser degree, the Italian) seem to have inspired the story and certain specific beats here. Branigan's tune feels like the perfect note on which to end this remake and also this review.

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Reviewed March 19, 2019.

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