Directed by: Sebastián Lelio
Written by: Alice Johnson Boher & Sebastián Lelio
Starring: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Caren Pistorius, Brad Garrett
Getting into a relationship with someone requires vulnerability for true connection to happen. With that vulnerability, one can leave themselves to be emotionally harmed in the process of finding someone to spend the rest of their lives with. Even as veterans of the dating world that pain will still hurt no matter how many times one gets divorced or goes through a breakup. This beautifully made film examines this idea and the execution results in an exceptional story.
Middle-aged divorcee Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) spends her nights in Los Angeles going to clubs and dancing the night away to have some fun. She has two adult children who are at very different points in their lives. One night while at the club, she meets Arnold (John Turturro) and the two strike up a relationship right away. Gloria feels the attachment and the feelings of being in a thriving relationship again. However, Arnold, also a divorcee and a father of two, carries his previous baggage with him and it ultimately starts to interfere with his relationship with Gloria.
When one generally thinks about romance films, the ones that usually come to mind center around with younger people. It makes sense because the audience gets to envision themselves as being the ones to end up with the person in the film they find an attraction to. It also does not help that women in Hollywood have up to the age of 25 to play a young woman falling in love before they have to take on motherly roles. This film takes a look at the joys and troubles of dating when reaching middle-aged status. With the divorce rates where they are now, it would be no surprise that anyone around the age of 40 looking to date would bump into plenty of divorcees. With it comes the baggage of a previous life and a relationship that at some point had enough love for them to be promised to each other forever. That causes the wedge between Gloria and Arnold, as one has made peace with their previous life and the latter has plenty of work to do.
This production becomes the second American remake of a foreign-language film starring Julianne Moore in 2019 with Gloria Bell being far superior to After the Wedding. Moore remains such a lively actor who has delivered some of the finest performance ever on the silver screen and this film, it’s obvious that she enjoyed this role. At the time of this review, I have not seen the original Chilean film Gloria put together by the same director that inspired this American remake, but Moore brings so much wonder and beauty to this role. She portrays a woman fighting some insecurity but has the willingness to be vulnerable enough for love to enter her life once again. Every time she sings in the car to her favorite songs, it reminds the audience of the simple joys she finds in life. This may be my favorite performance by Moore, which becomes a bold statement considering her filmography. The character of Gloria becomes so easy to root for and contributes to what makes this film such a pleasant viewing experience.
I adore the cinematography in the film as it shows Los Angeles as a place filled with hope. As the poster and many of the best images from the film indicate, purple makes its way all throughout the film. A color made from a mixture of the passion that exudes from the color red and the melancholy of the color blue. Passion informs all of Gloria’s actions, but heartbreak always lingers around the corner. The soundtrack also has some great selections that show that these characters are from a different era and their music have a separate meaning to them than most 21st century songs. The audience enters into the mind of someone trying to blend their sensibilities into a new dating world. She tries to be modern by using her phone but ends up meeting Arnold at a club, a location that no longer serves as a meeting place for relationships.
The relationship between Gloria and Arnold easily becomes the best aspect of the film. The ebbs and flows truly show each character’s integrity and intentions. When the path to success for their relationship has some roadblocks, the way they each react to it demonstrates their defining traits. Moore and Turturro play so well together in this film, where the passion they feel for each other becomes palpable and the fights they have feel incredibly real.
Gloria Bell results in such a wonderful viewing experience that provides a wonderful showcase for one of the best actors working today. It has a beautiful central message and all the mayhem Gloria encounters throughout the runtime feels earned. Love has never been simple and it does not necessarily get any easier as we get older in life. There are just different challenges and baggage that might get in the way. In the end, heartbreak does not have an expiration date but all we can do is continue to live, continue to love, and continue to dance.