In Gloria Bell, the English remake of his 2013 film Gloria, director Sebastian Lelio casts the luminous Julianne Moore in the lead role. Gloria leads a happy life. She’s divorced but on good terms with her ex. She’s involved in the lives of her children and grandchild. She has an office job that she seems to enjoy and girlfriends to confide in and laugh with. She also loves to dance, spending her evenings at dance clubs.
It is at one of these clubs that she meets Arnold (John Turturro). They make eye contact on the dance floor and from there the romance begins. Arnold comes with lots of hurts and complications from his own recently ended marriage and these will play out in sad, yet frustrating ways throughout the movie. We are rooting for both of them and are never really sure whether their lives will come together in a happy way. Both Moore and Turturro give sensitive and true-to-life performances. Youth is a complicated time in life, but Gloria Bell shows that mid life is every bit as daunting. Between Arnold’s needy family and Moore’s sudden change in circumstances (terrible neighbour, daughter moving to Europe, friend losing her job, son unable to stay in his apartment), they find that they have unexpected challenges to cope with. Will their budding love offer strength for these changing situations?
Gloria’s life is also chronicled by her daily drives. Karaoke-style she belts out whatever song is playing on her playlist and the music is always a reflection of her current situation in life. The songs are all golden oldies and add an 80’s vibe to the movie. It was a bit heavy-handed linking the music to her status but Moore looks so convincing as she sings along off key, it’s hard not to find it charming.
Julianne Moore is truly magnificent in this role. Her acting is subtle and nuanced. In the worst of circumstances she keeps her character even keeled and moving forward. These are skills and coping mechanisms that you learn with age. When she needs to make a bold statement she nails it. When she is happy she radiates joy and delight. Other than fitting her with overlarge glasses (to age her?) Moore looks like a woman barely into her forties, rather than mid-to-late 50’s woman that she is portraying. Even with an amazing supporting cast, this movie belongs to her.
So, if you are a fan of Julianne Moore (or have lived through a few crises yourself) this is the movie to see.
Gloria Bell is in theatres now.