Film review: Gloria Bell

It's not as good as the original, but the acting is great in this remake of a Chilean film about dating in your forties.


Julianne Moore delivers a punchy and beautifully nuanced performance in Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s shot-by-shot English language remake of his 2013 film Gloria. Lelio, whose last film was the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman, relocates the action from Santiago in Chile to Los Angeles to tell a heartening, if unremarkable story about a middle-aged divorcee’s foray into the dating game.

Insurance agent Gloria Bell is an attractive fifty-something divorcee who is still in her prime. With both her son (Michael Cera) and daughter (Caren Pistorius) too busy with their own complicated lives to pay her any attention, Gloria feels huge sadness which she attempts to hide by dancing the night away at a singles’ bar every weekend.

One night at the bar, Gloria meets charming divorced father-of-two Arnold (John Turturro). The two instantly hit it off and start a passionate affair with Arnold declaring his undying love after just couple of weeks of dating. Things take a turn for the unexpected when Gloria invites Arnold to accompany her to her son’s birthday dinner. Feeling neglected by her at the party, Arnold acts completely out of character which leaves Gloria frustrated and incandescent with rage.

Lelio and screenwriter Alice Johnson Boher present an undeniably engaging storyline which sticks fairly rigidly to the original source material. Navigating the social intricacies of middle-class American sensibilities through the eyes of Gloria, her family and friends, there is more than a faint hint of cinematic “tourism” in the way Lelio has chosen to interpret his own work in this very American setting. This, however, won’t matter too much to those who are yet to experience the director’s Spanish version of the same story, because ultimately Gloria Bell offers just the right amount of angst and drama to be able to stand on its own feet.

Julianne Moore, who is said to be the one who recruited the director to work on the project, lights up the screen for each second she is on it. And while moments of nudity feel a little gratuitous at times, they do however seem to add a great deal of vulnerability to Gloria’s character.

Depicting Arnold as both petulant and unpredictable, longtime Coen Brothers collaborator John Turturro (Barton Fink, O Brother Where Art Thou) gives a solid and measured performance which oscillates between mildly creepy and completely unhinged.

Despite failing to replicate the authenticity of the original, Gloria Bell still manages to capture the essence of story by presenting a beautifully well acted and decidedly watchable remake. 

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