Gloria Bell

 

starstarstar

 


A film which focuses on a truly resilient woman.

 
Gloria Bell

John Turturro and Julianne Moore

  

It's unusual - but not quite as rare as one might suppose - to find a film being remade by the original director. In the case of Chile's Sebastián Lelio, we find him returning here to his 2013 hit Gloria. That could be explained by the fact that Lelio, having turned to English language cinema with this film's predecessor Disobedience (2017), now wanted to follow up by making his name as a Hollywood director. However, he has offered another explanation: the expressed wish of the star of Gloria Bell, Julianne Moore, to have him direct her in a remake and his own understandable enthusiasm for her talent.

 

Relocated to Los Angeles with a side trip to Las Vegas, Gloria Bell is nevertheless a work which follows the original very closely. My comparatively low rating for it indicates not that the new version is inferior but that I retain my reservations about the story which put me in a minority when Gloria was acclaimed in 2013. As before, the middle-aged divorcée Gloria, mother of two grown children, is absolutely screen centre and Moore is the equal of the highly praised Paulina Garcia who first played her. Indeed, the loneliness and vulnerability that mark the character in spite of Gloria's strengths are particularly well brought out by Moore. A woman who loves to dance and continues to go to discos, it is in this setting that Gloria meets Arnold (John Turturro) who, like her, is divorced. They quickly begin a relationship, one that seems deep and promising, but then differences in outlook and character start to emerge.

 

Despite the presence of many subsidiary figures, this is a film so focussed on its two central characters and on Gloria in particular that for it to succeed you need to believe in their every action and care about the outcome. As written (and changes in this version are indeed minor) the film makes one question at key moments the way in which they behave. Turturro by expressing so clearly Arnold's weaknesses does help to make his behaviour all too likely but, if that is an advantage, it is also a handicap since it leaves us wondering just what Gloria saw in him in the first place. It means too that we come to feel that if things go awry she is well rid of him.

 

Gloria's refusal to be put down by events made her a true heroine for many when Gloria appeared and for those who see the story in that light Moore's Gloria may well arouse comparable enthusiasm. The fact that the tale is set in the 1950s means that a number of pop classics of the period are heard on the soundtrack and had it been a later period it could well be that the final scene would have played out to 'I Will Survive'. My own reservations in 2013 stemmed entirely from issues regarding the screenplay and the changes this time around are not substantial enough to alter my reactions. But, as before, I may well be in the minority and admirers of Julianne Moore will want to decide for themselves. Certainly, her performance will not let them down.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Caren Pistorius, Brad Garrett, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Rita Wilson, Sean Astin, Holland Taylor, Alanna Ubach, Barbara Sukowa.

 

Dir Sebastián Lelio, Pro Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín and Sebastián Lelio, Screenplay Sebastián Lelio with Alice Johnson Boher, from a story by Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza, Ph Natasha Braier, Pro Des Dan Bishop, Ed Soledad Salfate, Music Matthew Herbert, Costumes Stacey Battat.

 

A24/FilmNation Entertainment/Fabula-Curzon Artificial Eye.
102 mins. Chile/USA. 2018. Rel: 7 June 2019. Cert. 15.