The best character study currently in theaters.
Director: Sebastian Lelio (A Fantastic Woman)
Screenplay: Lelio, et al.
Cast: Julianne Moore (Suburbicon)
Runtime: 1 hr 42 min
By: John DeSando
In Gloria Bell, when Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart” can be a romantic coda, and Paul McCartney’s No More Lonely Nights can be hopeful, while Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again (Naturally) is the more accurate read, you can be assured we’re in the Twilight Zone of a lonely 50 something divorcee looking for happiness or at least balance, not just of yoga. However, Gloria is played by the gorgeous Julianne Moore, so you know she has a few more chapters in her love book.
Writer-director Sebastian Lelio, of the Oscar-winning Fantastic Woman, has re-worked his Chilean hit, Gloria, from six years ago, and it hasn’t aged a bit. The music alone, a mix of disco, Latin, and pop, keeps the pace as frenetic and romantic as Gloria’s searching heart. When she meets the unreliable Arnold (John Turturro) and falls for him, she eventually determines he is as toxic as his paint gun concession isn’t. Her end to that romance is a classic.
The reason to see this dramedy about a middle-aged hunter is to bathe in the glamor and vulnerability of this highly-developed woman. Her tireless search for love in discos and bars is a metaphor for our own hunt until we work hard enough to merit the prize.
Through the disappointments that family brings to lonely hearts like Gloria’s emerges a heart strong enough to keep up the good fight. It’s all not glorious, but it is alive with moments of truth and love that give sustenance to the warrior.
Gloria Bell is an absorbing character study, for which Moore should be nominated, taking us through the joy of letting go through dance to immersing in affections ill-timed and disappointing. Yet, like the title, life has glorious moments, and this film captures those highs and lows with a performance the best of Moore’s career. And Lilo’s.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com