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Gloria Bell – Movie Review

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Gloria Bell – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy VVS Films

Gloria Bell is a film that is entirely carried by Julianne Moore’s performance. Director Sebastian Lelio, remaking his own Spanish-language film in English, gives Moore the freedom to explore the title character to her fullest potential. The film also explores the difficulties that can come from any relationship and there’s an intimacy with how Lelio depicts Moore and John Turturro’s romance. So many scenes just let the characters talk and explore their feelings, but most importantly, Gloria becomes somebody we sympathise with and don’t want bad things to happen to. The result is a well executed and unconventional romantic film.

Lelio tells his story primarily through repeat images and scenarios, as we see Gloria confront similar problems with different attitudes. It’s a clever way of growing the characters and Moore sells it. She is in almost every scene and manages to convey so much of the anxieties facing this divorced mother as well as the ways she tries to overcome them. Some of the most powerful repeated scenes involve Gloria singing out loud in her car. The soundtrack must have cost a fortune, as Lelio utilises many different songs to give an idea of her head space. Even before Turturro enters the picture, Lelio also makes sure to show the sweet relationships she has with her children.

Moore and Turturro have solid chemistry together, but there’s also a sense of awkwardness there between these two divorcees. Gloria Bell is primarily a character piece and Lelio smartly lets the actors do their thing and also gives them good dialogue to work with. One of the best sections is during a dinner party at Gloria’s son’s apartment. With Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Caren Pistorious thrown into the scene as well, we see multiple personalities clash in various ways. Revelations come up that have an effect on the evening and Lelio and editor Soledad Salfate cut the scene precisely.

Lelio also manages to flow from scene to scene, but without taking the focus away from Gloria and her troubles. It doesn’t take long to grow sympathetic towards her and create the necessary concern for what will befall her next. With Gloria, Lelio and Moore seem intent on showing somebody who has been continually given the short end of the stick, but it’s never done in a mocking way. By showing her singing in the car, we get a sense of the few moments of escape from the stresses of work and romance. She’s an easy protagonist to root for.

While Sebastian Lelio has filmed this story before, Gloria Bell nonetheless works as a vehicle for Julianne Moore. She is the star of the film and carries us through every scene. It’s a different type of romance than we’re accustomed to and while there might be a promise of comedy, laughs are definitely not the focus. Instead, the movie wants us to have sympathy for Gloria as she deals with the difficulties any relationship could encounter. Pairing her up with John Turturro allows for an interesting dynamic and the best scenes do come from just the conversations the characters have.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison