Director Sebastian Lelio had some experience going into this project, since “Gloria Bell” is actually a remake of his own 2013 Chilean film “Gloria.”
Gloria, played in the American version by Julianne Moore, is a woman who frequents disco dance clubs in Los Angeles on a regular basis. Having been divorced for about a decade, Gloria visits the clubs and mingles with some of the guys there, with the hope of maybe sparking a new relationship in mind.
During one of her outings, she meets Arnold (John Turturro), another divorcee who’s also looking for a new relationship. The two hit it off and begin dating each other. However, they find out that they might not be the most perfect match.
“Gloria Bell” is very much a slice-of-life character study focused on the protagonist. It’s an intimate portrait of a woman trying to go through life at a point where she’s on her own, with her children grown and having been separated from her significant other.
While she does get by in life and seems to enjoy the little things, like singing songs in her car loudly, there’s clearly an underlying desire for a connection with somebody. That desire, and her subsequent enjoyment of a budding relationship with Arnold, transcend on the audience.
This continues as the relationship develops and dramatic elements are introduced. Plus, the audience gets to see Gloria spending time with her son who’s a new father, and speaking with her daughter who’s just started a new relationship.
The way the story rolls all of this out hinders it a bit, though.
The movie really feels choppy sometimes, with scenes feeling disjointed and others out of place. As a whole, it’s a an enjoyable experience spending time following Gloria, but there are certainly sequences that don’t work and all the elements of the protagonist’s life don’t come together as well as one would like.
Fortunately, Moore is so damn good and convincing in the role that many of the film’s problems can be overlooked. Moore so thoroughly delivers in portraying Gloria’s joy, free spirit, disappointment, sadness, and every emotion in between. It’s a rich performance and is really the reason an audience can enjoy following Gloria’s journey.
As a light, picture focusing on one person, Moore’s performance in integral to making the whole thing work and she really knocks it out of the park with this one. She’s especially great during some of the scenes in the third act when her story begins wrapping up.
“Gloria Bell” isn’t a complex breakdown of relationships and dating at middle age. Despite some heavier moments, this picture maintains an easy-going feel and is ultimately an enjoyable watch.
It certainly has narrative issues, but it’s still nice following Moore’s character navigate family, relationships and life in general during this short period. She’s helped by a fine supporting cast, too. 3.0 out of 5.