Cast: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Brad Garrett
Director: Sebastian Lelio
Coming out of TIFF last year, I heard a lot about Sebastian Lelio’s remake of his critically acclaimed movie Gloria and how whenever this American version is released it will be something everyone can enjoy. This movie definitely has a targeted audience of older women, and even though I am not apart of that demographic, there are still enough high-quality moments to keep anyone captivated. Moore once again shows why she one of the greatest working actresses and does a service to Lelio and a story that he is clearly very passionate about. For a smaller release that probably won’t end up getting the awards love it was anticipating, Gloria Bell is a very impressive movie that under the right circumstances could’ve ended up cleaned up any awards season, but I guess it didn’t work out that way.
The film follows Gloria Bell (Moore), a middle-aged divorcee who lives a relatively monotonous life before going out to clubs at night looking to meet new people. When she meets Arnold (Turturro), a fellow divorcee, the two begin a tumultuous romance that seeps into their personal lives in ways they could never predict. This is the type of movie that lives and dies with the lead actress, and Moore being the true professional that she is completely embodies the spirit of the film. Moore is an inspiration to the women of her generation and shows them that just because they aren’t in their prime anymore that they can still live their lives to the fullest. Turturro is impressive in his own right, and while his character might be a little underdeveloped, he does a good job of showing us just how complex and complicated someone with his age and experience can be. For those watching who are outside of this age range, it serves as a haunting reality check to what is inevitably coming upon all of us, but at the same time the story is framed behind the themes of humor and joy based on the relationships Gloria was created in her life. Even though it can seem depressing at times, it shows us that it won’t be as bad as we think it will be. The only real issue I saw is that the ending seemed to be a little jumbled and confusing to me. For someone who doesn’t have the life experience that these characters do, I had a hard time relating to their actions at the end and thought there was a very easy around much of the tension between Gloria and Arnold. Gloria is very quick just to jump to conclusions and isn’t ever willing to have an adult conversation with Arnold, which makes it very difficult to empathize with her situation. Sure Arnold is incredibly flawed in his own right, but since both of these people have been married before, you’d think they know how to work a relationship to some capacity. Maybe the targeted demographic will understand her actions better than I did, but for the common viewer I think they may have the same reservations that I did about the ending.
Overall, Gloria Bell at its very core is an, “I am woman, hear me roar,” empowerment movie for a generation of middle-aged women, but for everyone else, there’s something you can take away from this that you’ll enjoy. Moore is one of the few must-watch actresses in film right now and backs that up once again in this movie. If you want a seemingly dark movie draped with a positive tone and backed by strong performances and an awesome soundtrack, then Gloria Bell is the movie for you.
Overall Score: 7.5/10