Gloria Bell is a charming slice-of-life, whether you’re on a date or flying solo
|National Post 15 Mar 2019 at 10:20|
That’s about all you need to know about Gloria Bell, which is the name both of the character played by Julianne Moore and of the movie, a remake of the 2013 foreign-language charmer Gloria from Chilean writer/director Sébastián Lelio.
Lelio has recreated his own movie for non-subtitle-reading audiences with, it must be said, a high degree of fidelity. Original actress Paulina García, striking but also clearly in her 50s, gives way to Moore, who turns 59 this year.
Beautiful but hardly glamorous under a sensible haircut and large glasses, Moore delivers a naturalistic performance that looks so effortless you know it’s not. A three-dimensional character without the need for 3D glasses; what will they think of next?
The beats are the same as in the original. Gloria meets fellow divorced parent Arnold (John Turturro) during a night out at a club. They hit it off; he reads her a love poem by Claudio Bertoni (in translation) and takes her to the amusement park he runs, for a little bungee-jumping and paintball.
Meanwhile – because we are more than the sum of our prime romantic relationships, dammit! – Gloria visits her children (Michael Cera, Caren Pistorius), spends time with her mom and work colleagues; goes to the eye doctor; sings along with the car radio (not badly but not perfectly either); and deals with a noisy neighbour and a mysterious hairless cat that keeps infiltrating her apartment.
She calls her kids regularly – signing off with “this is your mother,” in case it’s not clear – but also knows not to overstep their personal boundaries. Once they’re out of the nest, you have to let them fly on their own.
The effect is to sketch out a life in all its messy detail, and to let us know that Gloria is already complete without a man. (The not-so-subtle message to viewers: So are you!)
So the fact that she meets one who seems like a nice guy is a bonus. The dumb stunt he pulls during a family dinner suggests that maybe he’s not worth the effort. Though I have to admit that, as a man, I wondered whether her reaction wasn’t overblown: He gets jealous of her cozy relationship with her ex-husband, and ghosts the party; she won’t return his calls for days. Still, a later incident suggests her initial instinct was the right one.
As a date movie, expect Gloria Bell to create a wide space for discussion afterward. Though you could also go see this charming slice of life on your own. Nothing wrong with that. This is a rom-com for people old enough to remember When Harry Met Sally, and wise enough to have realized that things would have worked out even if he hadn’t.
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