“Gloria Bell” Is That Rare Special Film With A Lead Performance From Julianne Moore Who Is A Complete Revelation In A Career Best Performance.
I have not seen Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s original film “Gloria” from 2013. But thankfully I got to embrace his American remake to his own film, now called “Gloria Bell”. Lelio proves he is an accomplished filmmaker as Julianne Moore is a revelation in her career best performance as “Gloria Bell”.
Her character Gloria Bell has been divorced for almost a decade, she works at an Insurance firm who spends her nights as a regular at a Los Angeles disco populated by other fifty and sixty somethings who boogie on down to the music of the 1970s. When asked by single men if she wants to dance she declines nor does she approach any of them. She has somewhat of a rocky relationship with her kids (more so her son played by “Superbad” actor Michael Cera) as when she calls she is always getting a voicemail as she ends every call with “It’s your mother”.
Gloria is smart, kind, beautiful and funny. She is the ideal woman any guy would be blessed with. When Gloria finally opens herself up to allow herself to explore a potential romance, her choice seems to be the one. John Turturro also gives a career best performance as Arnold. Like Gloria he spends his nights at the club. One night he sees Gloria across the dance floor as he stares at her with an intense gaze. When Arnold finally asks Gloria to dance, it quickly leads to courtship and a night of love-making, over the course of the film we learn he’s a socially awkward fella who wears a girdle, as he had lost more than 100 pounds but is still self-conscious about his weight. He owns a paintball amusement park, and is overly indulgent with his two adult daughters and his ex-wife, who call him at all hours seeking his help on countless situations.
I love John Turturro as Arnold, he is charming, mysterious as he feels like he is hiding many secrets. But most of all he feels like a lost cause that it causes Gloria to get dragged down with him, and we begin to question why someone as lovely as Gloria keeps giving him a chance, as she only ends up getting burned in increasingly humiliating ways.
The film shines in it’s set pieces, such as an excellent second act as Gloria and Arnold attends a birthday party for her son at which Gloria’s now-remarried ex-husband (a superb Brad Garrett “Everybody Loves Raymond”). Her ex-husband talks easily of his former marriage as the two share family photos of their wedding. While feeling shut out, Arnold feels as he doesn’t exit at the party, so he rudely vanishes without telling anyone, leaving Gloria hurt and angry. Arnold confronts her later, Arnold says, “I searched in your eyes, I didn’t exist.’ Turturro pierces the moment with emotion, even when Gloria doesn’t consider his feelings and tells him to “grow a pair”.
The immensely talented Julianne Moore gives a stunningly pitch perfect performance. This is the stuff of Oscar nominations. There is not a single thing of this performance that’s anything short of brilliant.
It’s a film that can rapidly change tones, being a quirky, funny, romantic and bittersweet film. Julianne Moore creates another original and memorable character in her remarkable canon of work. She has come a long way from the first film I ever saw her in “Nine Months” opposite Hugh Grant. Even the little moments when she is singing an oldie in her car, there’s something magical about the moment and her performance. She is a great actress hitting all the right notes every step of the way.
“Gloria Bell” is also that rare movie that has passion and chemistry between it’s two characters that are close to turning 60. Lelio knows how to skillfully reflect on life with real realism and his remake to his original film which I cannot make comparisons, since I haven’t seen the original. If “Gloria Bell” is any indication to what “Gloria” might behold then I’ll be in for another treat as I was treated to one of the years best films with “Gloria Bell”.
GRADE: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)