Gloria Bell

Gloria Bell
Gloria Bell
Directed by Sebastián Lelio
Starring Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Caren Pistorius, Brad Garrett, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Rita Wilson, Chris Mulkey, Sean Astin and Holland Taylor
In UK Cinemas and On Curzon Home Cinema June 7th, 2019

by Joanna Orland

When a director remakes one of their own films, you can’t help but wonder why, and what is left to tell. With Gloria Bell, director Sebastián Lelio transplants his characters and narrative from his original 2013 film Gloria, putting Julianne Moore in the lead and moving the setting from Santiago, Chile to Los Angeles, America. The cultural impact alone adds some interesting nuances to the story, and with a seasoned actress like Moore as the titular character, new and different depths are explored.

Gloria (Julianne Moore) is a divorcée who spends her days working an office job, and her nights dancing disco at local clubs around LA. She has a joie de vivre about her, only heightened by Moore’s confident performance. On one of her nights out, Gloria meets Arnold (John Turturro) and they begin an unexpected romance, complicated by ideas of dating after divorce, identity and family obligations.

The film is slow-building, allowing the complexities of the characters to lead the narrative. As the film progresses, so does the humour – peaking midway in a glorious dinner party scene where Arnold meets Gloria’s extended family, including her ex-husband played wonderfully by Brad Garrett.

The arc of Gloria Bell is inspiring, as even when she’s been knocked down, she repeatedly carries on with a confidence executed assuredly by Moore’s performance. Director Sebastián Lelio has much empathy for marginalized characters and female stories, and continues to empower such personalities in his films.

In spite of Gloria Bell being an excellent movie, it lacks something that the original conveyed so well. By moving the location to modern America, there’s more of a specificity to the story rather than a universal feel that was lingering under the surface in Gloria. With Moore’s performance, she’s perfect in her own right, yet much more subtle than Paulina García‘s more overt Gloria. There was something more visceral, vulnerable and brutal to the original whereas the location move to America makes everything feel much more reserved. Gloria felt broad, hence able to be translated into Gloria Bell. Gloria Bell feels more narrow, relating to the film’s characters rather than every woman’s journey. This does not detract from the film, this actually allows for a refreshing take on the same story, nearly the same film shot-for-shot. Gloria lives on through Gloria Bell.


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