There might not actually be any Britney Spears music in Gloria Bell as the title of this review might suggest, but I’d challenge anyone to take a shot every time they hear an Earth, Wind and Fire song during the course of this movie and not be passed out by the time the credits roll.
From A Fantastic Woman (which is great!) director Sebastián Lelio, Gloria Bell is a new drama/comedy/romance that falls under the A24 umbrella.
Honestly, if it came down to it, I’d pick an A24 joint over a giant superhero tentpole film like Shazam! or Ant Man and the Wasp any day of the week. Luckily, we live in a world where we can have both and don’t have to choose, but you know where my allegiance lies if that day ever were to come.
Gloria Bell is a remake (and from what I’ve heard, an incredibly faithful remake, actually, of a 2013 Spanish film called Gloria, which was also directed by Lelio.
Apparently, Gloria didn’t get the kind of attention or critical acclaim that he was hoping for so he decided to do the entire thing over again — only this time in English and with Julianne Moore in the lead instead of Paulina García.
Gloria Bell (Moore) is a 50-something-year-old woman who, quite simply, is just trying to live life to the fullest.
Think Liz Lemon’s wishes to have it all in 30 Rock and then add a couple of extra decades, as an example. She’s done the whole marriage thing, had a couple of kids and now has a steady job at an insurance agency, but still feels like there’s something — or someone, perhaps — that’s missing.
That’s not to imply she’s a bad mother or anything like that. While her marriage to Dustin Mason (Brad Garrett, who isn’t in the film a whole lot but does a great job on-screen when he is there) didn’t last too long, as they wed when they were far too young, Gloria tries her best to have a steady presence in their children’s — Peter (Michael Cera) and Anne (Caren Pistorius) — lives.
Problem is, they don’t necessarily want their mother in their lives. It’s not like they despise Gloria or anything like that, it’s just that both of them are going through some pretty complex things at the moment and they both prefer to deal with it by themselves.
So, Gloria instead keeps to herself and spends most nights dancing in 1980’s Los Angeles disco clubs — which are a thing, I guess? I mean, I’m not denying the fact that there are these kinds of establishments out there, but Gloria Bell would have you believe they are a very common and busy trend even despite that this is all set during modern day.
Anyways, it’s at one of these disco clubs when she meets Arnold (John Turturro) and begins falling in love all over again.
Arnold comes with some baggage of his own — he’s also recently divorced and has to take care of two daughters that depend on him far more than he’d like — but there’s also an undeniable connection between the two of them, which they both feel is worth pursuing.
Which is kind of it, really. There are not any big plot twists or anything in Gloria Bell that feels like is super pressing or life-changing thrown in there — which is actually the best part of the movie, really.
That lack of urgency is used to paint a really detailed and unique portrait of this middle-aged woman and all of the things that life throws at her.
That’s still important in its own right, though, as this is a kind of character exploration we rarely on screen. While Moore is an actress who might not be hurting for work at the moment, if you take a step back and look at Hollywood as a whole, there aren’t a lot of 40 to 60-year-old actresses with a thriving career. That’s the industries fault more than anything, really, as people like Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer and Holly Hunter are all incredibly talented and SHOULD be cast in more things — it’s just that whenever they are cast, they’re usually playing supporting roles who are only given one or two personality traits (think of how little Annette Benning had to do in Captain Marvel, as an example).
Gloria Bell breaks down a lot of those stereotypes by exploring the complexity of this character. She is a mother, yes, but she’s also constantly learning, experimenting and making mistakes along the way. One of the best moments of this movie is when Gloria’s mother, who’s played by Holland Taylor, has to save her from an embarrassing situation in which Gloria knows she made a huge mistake.
That’s not to say that Gloria is in some way naive or immature, it’s just the film’s way of portraying her in a three-dimensional way.
You can’t talk about Gloria Bell without mentioning just how good Julianne Moore is in this movie, of course. Moore has played dozens and dozens of characters throughout the years, but something like Gloria Bell feels special because there’s a certain kind of honesty and vulnerability that comes along with it.
The rest of the cast is good, too. It’s great seeing Turturro take roles like this instead of, you know, those unspeakable Transformers movies. Cera and Pistorius add something extra, too, and there’s also this one really random and unexpected cameo that you don’t see coming at all, but winds up being a lot of fun when you realize who it is and what role they are playing.
At this point, we’ve seen thousands of coming-of-age movies. We’ve seen thousands of movies about men going through a mid-life crisis, and even more about men who have aged and are reflecting on their life. We’ve seen previous few, though, about middle-aged women who are just trying to get by.
Despite the slower pace and lack of any substantial plot-points (there is a story that kicks more into gear during the second half), that’s where Gloria Bell finds it’s relevancy — a kind of relevancy we really should see more of in modern day cinema. Given the general tone of the film, it might not be the most memorable movie you’re ever going to watch, but it’s still something that’s pretty special nonetheless.
Watch the trailer for Gloria Bell here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!
'Gloria Bell' - Dancin' till the world ends [REVIEW]8