In 2013 Sebastian Lelio released his breakthrough Chilean drama, Gloria. It propelled the filmmaker into the international arena, like most critically acclaimed films, a remake usually follows. As history foretells, those remakes usually end badly and 2018 that remake arrived. Gloria Bell is one of those rare occasions a remake actually worked.
In the original version, Paulina Garcia played the titular character, In the rmake it’s Julianne Moore plays our Gloria. Moore was also one of the instigators behind bringing the English language to the screen and bringing Lelio onboard. The film was also a rare opportunity for an actress aged 50 or older to star in the lead role!
Gloria (Moore) is a free spirited divorcee who spends her days at her mundane office job. At night she’s let loose on the dance floor in the clubs of Los Angeles. On one of her many nights out, Gloria finds herself in an unexpected romance with Arnold (John Turturro). Joyous with her new companionship, slowly that relationship becomes blighted by the complications of history and the family.
Whilst Gloria and Gloria Bell follow the same storyline narratively, the new version doesn’t have the political, oppressive tensions of the original. Gloria and Arnold might both be divorcees with adult children, they are sort of polar opposites. Gloria’s kids don’t need her any more even though she misses them, as Arnold’s daughters they are so demanding it leaves him exhausted. To a point leaving Gloria wondering why she is in a relationship with him, who is becoming a bit of a Houndini expert as he disappears when things get uncomfortable. There is one scene at one of Gloria’s kids birthday party, Arnold is there, so is Gloria’s ex-husband. Arnold vanishes, only for her to confront him when they meet and tell him to ‘grow a pair’.
Julianne Moore is superb as our titular character, carries the film with confidence and panache. Sebastian Lelio keeps things simple, with all our focus is on the actress as she is the star attraction. Moore delviers a radiating, empathetic portrait of a woman (50 and over) who rarely get a chance to star in a lead role on the big screen. Gloria’s life might be mundane during the day, escapism is bliss when she hits the dance floor to the sounds of the 1970’s.
Gloria Bell is a beautifully made film, it has flaws so does life. It reminds life may begin at 40, it can also be lonely and fun too. When you hit 50 or over and female life doesn’t end, you’ll nver be forgotten either.