With Sebastián Lelio both writing and directing once more ‘Gloria Bell’ is a new imagining of his 2013 Chilean-Spanish drama ‘Gloria’. Under the hue of neon lights and against the beat of disco classics Gloria, portrayed here by Julianne Moore, spends her evenings strutting her stuff on the dance floors of Los Angeles nightclubs. It’s here where she encounters Arnold, John Turturro, and quickly discovers that like her he is a divorcee who also loves to dance.
At first glance the narrative here could appear to be somewhat sparse. The film simply follows this middle-aged woman navigating her life. Her career, family and social life are very much part of her day to day existence but the film frames all of this with a certain sadness, alluding to a feeling of disconnect or lacking as a whole. This presentation of Gloria’s life and the potential for a new relationship thanks to Arnold help to paint an intriguing portrait of this woman. Whilst her overall story might not be completely satisfying for all audiences Gloria is always fascinating to watch. She’s a complex character and one that is engaging enough to support a sometimes meandering story. The film does teeter on the brink of becoming too slow on occasion but it always just narrowly avoids this, most certainly thanks to Gloria’s enigmatic qualities. In addition to this the synthy score by Matthew Herbert combined with the disco club soundtrack and the striking visuals give ‘Gloria Bell’ a nice flare that consistently dazzles audiences and enhances the narrative, forcing it to delve deeper beneath its simplistic surface level.
This interesting character wouldn’t be half the success she is without the mesmerising leading performance from Julianne Moore. She is a captivating force driving this film forward with a constant momentum, even when the narrative takes its foot of the gas. Her dramatic chemistry with her co-stars is wonderful but Moore doesn’t need anyone to bounce off to demonstrate her brilliance, she’s electric all by herself and the best she’s been since her Oscar winning turn in ‘Still Alice’. Whilst this is unmistakably Moore’s film her supporting cast are all excellent. John Turturro is great as her romantic interest, delivering one of the strongest dramatic performances of his career. The remaining cast is made up of well know names such as Michael Cera, Sean Astin and numerous others. Most deliver strong performances despite their limited screen time and none more so than Brad Garrett who plays Gloria’s ex-husband, Dustin. He stars in only one sequence in the film but his impact is most definitely felt, complimenting one of the funniest sections of writing in the screenplay with a suitably humourous performance to match.
Lelio has succeeded in creating a hypnotic re-imagining of his original film, manufacturing the perfect set up for Moore to excel in the titular role. Whilst not necessarily gripping, ‘Gloria Bell’ still boasts a richly compelling tone, laced with natural humour and authentic drama. Ultimately it’s Moore’s stunning lead performance that propels ‘Gloria Bell’ to the dizzier heights that it reaches demonstrating just why she’s truly one of the modern day greats.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
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