What You Need To Know:
GLORIA BELL is a very intimate slice-of-life film whose success rests squarely on the shoulders of star Julianne Moore as the title character. Moore lives up to the challenge. She’s supported by a fine performance from John Turturro as Arnold. GLORIA BELL will attract moviegoers who like quieter movies driven by great acting and characters. However, for most moviegoers, it’s too muted and emotionally disconnected to register strongly. Finally, the title character’s godless ways, sex scenes, use of recreational marijuana, and occasional foul mouth in GLORIA BEELL will turn off media-wise, discerning viewers.
GLORIA BELL tells the story of a 50-year-old divorced woman who spends her nights dancing anonymously in Los Angeles discos and takes a chance on a romance that ultimately proves futile. GLORIA BELL has some excellent performances and good direction, but it’s too muted and emotionally disconnected and features a strong Romantic, lawless worldview with lots of foul language, lewd content and a lead character who ends up learning nothing.
Gloria (Julianne Moore) is meant to be an Everywoman representing ladies who have gone through divorce and are struggling to find their place in the world in middle age. She works in an insurance office by day, singing along to old pop songs on the radio while driving and spending most nights dancing at dance clubs across Los Angeles hoping to meet a man.
Early, she’s seen having an awkward one-night stand, but one night a seemingly sweet and lonely man named Arnold (John Turturro) approaches her, and they find they have a genuine connection. Rather than just having a one-night stand, they start to date seriously. Arnold reveals he owns an adventure park for adults that includes a shooting range and a paintball field, and Gloria learns how to do both.
However, Arnold keeps a strangely emotionally close relationship with his adult daughters that starts to wear on Gloria. Then, when at a party celebrating her first grandchild’s birth, Gloria seems to pay more attention to her remarried ex-husband (Brad Garrett) than Arnold, cracks start to show in her relationship with Arnold.
GLORIA BELL is a very intimate slice-of-life film whose success rests squarely on the shoulders of star Julianne Moore as the titular character. Moore lives up to the challenge, delivering another in a seemingly unending stream of Oscar-worthy performances by covering seemingly the entire spectrum of emotions effortlessly. Even though Gloria’s life is often morally reckless, Moore still conveys enough charm to be entertaining throughout.
Turturro delivers one of the best performances of his lengthy career, and Director Sebastian Lelio finds subtle yet colorful ways to show Gloria’s emotional journey throughout. Particularly fun are her adventures on Arthur’s games compound, and her ultimate resolution of their relationship is both unexpected and hilarious.
Ultimately, though, Gloria is a woman who doesn’t seem to have any spiritual life to ground her or a relationship with God. The final moments could be seen as a sly, sad commentary on her lifestyle, as Gloria is back in the same disco where she started, dancing to the classic 1980s pop song “Gloria,” about a woman who’s unable to make a true connection with any man.
GLORIA BELL will attract moviegoers who like quieter films driven by great acting and characters. However, for most moviegoers it’s too muted and emotionally disconnected to register strongly. Also, the ending is uninspiring because Gloria doesn’t seem to learn anything. Finally, her godless ways, sex scenes, use of recreational marijuana, and occasional foul mouth will turn off media-wise, discerning viewers.