GLORIA BELL gets 5.5/10 Romance woes

Directed by Sebastián Lelio

Starring Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Brad Garrett


Middle aged, middle class folks suffering a midlife crisis post-divorce and embarking on new relationships to quell their existential dread seems to be becoming its own hot new movie genre. In fact, director Sebastián Lelio thought making one wasn’t enough and has now given his own 2013 film Gloria the English-language remake treatment himself.

Dipping in and around this title character’s seemingly transitional stage of life, Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) strikes up a romance with Arnold (John Turturro), a fellow divorcee who’s in a similar predicament, though is still somewhat connected with his ex-wife and their adult children, as evidenced from a number of hushed calls he often has to return.

A slice-of-life kind of character study, though with not a whole lot of character growth, Gloria Bell moves along with ease and comfort in its light-weight existence. Her life as portrayed here is made up more of clips than scenes, showing the short moments of her life in an effort to characterise her in a piecemeal manner.

The addition of Arnold in her life anchors the story to a reasonable degree, and a lengthy scene when she introduces him to her ex-husband Dustin (Brad Garrett) and their kids not only works better at absorbing the audience into these lives but more successfully manages to flesh out the relationship between her and her new squeeze.

Arnold turns out to be an erratically untrustworthy potential love interest, though since the film only views him as an accessory to the central character, his worldview is hardly explored and his relationship flaw isn’t explored. But this flaw of his is really the same as hers – the frustratingly ambiguous communication they share between each other.

This does feel somewhat tailor-made for an audience of a similar age and relationship status to the title character, with all her constant ups and downs in relationships, romance, and hook-ups, set to a melancholic and nostalgic 80s soundtrack. But it still doesn’t come to much of an overall satisfying conclusion, with so much of Gloria’s life still missing from this film’s view. It’s the sort of character study that identifies too much with its central character’s strengths, but not so much her flaws.


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