R, 1h 42m – Drama, Romance
Now Playing (Opens wide march 22nd)
Julianne Moore is one of the best actors working today, bar none, so it’s of little surprise that she delivers a tremendous performance in Sebastian Lelio’s “Gloria Bell,” which I can only assume will deliver the actress more nominations if the performance is remembered come awards season.
Director Lelio’s returns to familiar territory by remaking his own 2013 film “Gloria” for America’s audiences. I’ve seen several critics and viewers ask why Sebastian Lelio would remake his own film. Lelio isn’t the first filmmaker to remake his own material. A majority of modern audiences may not know that the 1956 classic Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” with James Stewart and Doris Day, is actually a remake of a Hitchcock’s 1936 film of the same name. The director had grown into the legendary director he is now known as and he felt it was time to tackle the material correctly. Michael Mann did the same thing by remaking his TV movie “L.A. Takedown” into what we all know and love as 1995’s exceptional crime thriller “Heat,” with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
Suffice it to say, this is not unheard of, and it does Lelio a bunch of favors to have such an exceptional cast surrounding Moore. John Turturro plays Arnold, who meets Moore’s Gloria at a nightclub she frequents. He is charming, smitten and a complete mystery. Their relationship is the main romantic yarn that threads itself in and out of the story. Turturro is one of the most underrated actors out there and has been for quite some time. Between “The Night Of” (2016) and this, he has been having quite a good few years flexing his dramatic muscle.
From a distance the story is a simple one about a free-spirited woman in her 50s who seeks out love at Los Angeles dance clubs. For anyone that has dealt with heartbreak, loneliness, sadness, and the pitfalls of the dating life, regardless of age, you know that a character-driven piece like this is not simple. Gloria and the relationships around her are complex, and it’s when the other relationships and individuals come in and out of her life that the film really shines. A sequence with Gloria’s ex husband (played perfectly by “Everybody Loves Raymond” brother Brad Garrett), new girlfriend (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and adult children (Michael Cera and Caren Pistorius) with Turturro in tow is cringe-worthy gold and shows what great casting is capable of accomplishing.
The film looks great. The use of color by cinematographer Natasha Braier gives the film a wonderful and dynamic look but stops short of allowing the colors to pop too much, instead giving the film a bit of a haze that suggests unease for the character and the audience.
While the story editing is a bit unbalanced at times, with some scenes not smoothly juxtaposing into the next, the general tone of the film hits the mark. A character piece demands interesting characters, and this movie has that in spades.