Gloria Bell

Two films starring middle-aged women in a row! And, I’m sad to report, this is another disappointment. It is an almost scene-for-scene re-make, so I’m told as I didn’t see the original, of Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s 2013 film of the same name. This time Julianne Moore who stars was also executive producer.

For me it’s often a warning sign when the star is also the producer. Cue a movie that plays to the star’s vanity or where he/she is too close for objectivity. In this case, it’s not entirely unjustified – Moore is a fine actor and the film centres on the eponymous Gloria. So its natural she should occupy the screen almost all of the time.

Gloria has been divorced for many years, has a dull but demanding job in insurance and two grown-up children to whom she is devoted but who have their own issues to sort out. A disco diva, she spends her days singing along to the hits of yesteryear as she drives to work and the nights boogying at singles’ nights and downing one martini after another. Superficially carefree, she is looking for love and it enters in the form of Arnold, a rather shy and charming John Turturro.

He sweeps her off her feet by wining and dining her and by his prowess in the bedroom. But he has baggage, it appears, as his daughters are constantly interrupting their intimate moments and he is torn between his old family and his new love. Suspiciously he wants to keep Gloria in a separate silo, away from the realities of life. This becomes clear in one of the few scenes with multiple characters, at Gloria’s son’s birthday, where her ex and his wife, plus her son and daughter are gathered together for an awkward celebration. 

With such a slight story line, the most dramatic moments are banal – like in the first sex scene when Gloria rips off Arnold’s back girdle. Then there’s the mysterious appearance of the furless Sphynx cat who haunts her apartment and, completely unrelated, the ongoing battle she has with her psychotic neighbour – yet I remain puzzled as to the relevance of this latter thread. Perhaps it’s meant to highlight the loneliness of a single woman who, without a partner, is unable to deal with troublesome neighbours…if so that seems rather patronising. 

The theme of coming to terms with middle age as opposed to coming of age is, simply put, just a little bit dull in this rendering, with the only redeeming feature Moore’s acting (three stars for that but not for anything else). It’s hard to imagine that she could have remained single for so long given her sexiness, demon dancing and throaty laugh; her glamourous glasses scarcely hide her beauty. Perhaps I am being unkind but it really was a lot of minutes about nothing very much, more a vehicle for the star to show off her acting talents.

As for the search for the perfect man – I say stick to the cat!

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