Gloria Bell Movie Review: Julianne Moore Is Utterly Captivating

One trademark from director Sebastian Lelio is that he makes vivid, complex movies about women. He made his breakthrough with the 2013 film Gloria which depicts a middle-aged woman trying to find herself. In addition, A Fantastic Woman starring trans actress Daniela Vega won the Foreign Language Film Oscar. Also, just last year, he did the immensely overlooked lesbian drama Disobedience. Now, he has recreated the film that put him on the map with the remake Gloria Bell starring Julianne Moore in the role previously occupied by Paulina Garcia.

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It goes without saying that Julianne Moore is terrific as the titular character. It’s an incredibly naturalistic performance and she captivates in every single frame she appears in. Also, she literally appears in every frame. Whether she’s bursting into song or sitting in silence, Moore successfully channels her character’s rampant emotions. After winning an Oscar for her powerhouse dramatic turn in Still Alice, Moore delivers a relaxed yet three-dimensional portrait of a woman finding her groove on the dance floor, and in life, that might be among the best work of her career.

That being said, John Turturro impresses as Arnold, the swoon worthy object of Gloria’s affection who may be too good to be true. Also, actors like Rita Wilson, Holland Taylor, and Brad Garrett do well in their small roles. However, it’s mainly the Julianne Moore show.

In addition, Gloria Bell has plenty of stellar craftsmanship. For instance, the synthesized score by Matthew Herbert feels like its own character with its soothing yet melancholic sound. Plus, the cinematography by Natasha Braier is breathtaking. The neon lights used during the scenes of Gloria at the disco capture the euphoric feeling she gets as she hits on the dance floor. Also, the sequences of Gloria bursting into song while driving are done in long takes to showcase her trying to process her feelings.

Not to mention, the songs she sings match her state of mind as she’s singing them. For example, after experiencing love and bliss with Arnold, Gloria starts playing “Love Is In The Air” by John Paul Young. But before then, we get a scene where Gloria sings “All Out Of Love” from Air Supply while she’s driving a way for her to vent her lonely feelings. Along with the steady camera work by Braier, credit should also go to editor Soledad Salfate.

As Gloria is going through the motions of her day to day life, Salfate cuts to the car sequences which allow her to break free from that mundanity and work as small vignettes. Yet those sequences are a few examples of the masterful work by Salfate who allows the film, which runs at 102 minutes, to move at a steady pace.

Gloria Bell may be a brilliant acting showcase for Julianne Moore. However, the film’s execution is completely in sync with the “in the moment” tenacity that Moore’s performance demonstrates. Simply put, Gloria Bell is a flawless, spellbinding gem that is bittersweet yet will still have you bursting into song and dance by the time it’s over. This reviewer certainly did that when it ended.

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Matthew St.Clair

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