In 2013, Chilean writer-director Sebastián Lelio released “Gloria,” the story of a free-spirited divorcee in her 50s searching for love and excitement. The film was adored by critics, and even became the country’s official submission for the 2014 Oscars’ Best Foreign Language Film.
Now, in 2019, Lelio, a seemingly firm believer in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” remade the exact same movie, only in English.
The Julianne Moore-led remake, slightly changed to “Gloria Bell,” quickly became a critical darling, yet didn’t quite resonate with audiences, earning just a 40-percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
As much as I typically enjoy A24 films, and as excited as the film’s trailer got me, I expected to love “Gloria Bell,” but instead, I found myself in the 40-percent.
As the titular Gloria Bell, Julianne Moore delivers an emotionally stirring performance, but beyond that, there just isn’t much here. As Gloria searches for companionship and thrills during the second half of her life, she falls for Arnold (John Turturro), and is quickly thrust back into the whimsy and passion of early-life romances.
Gloria and Arnold are supposed to be an unlikely pair, which the film accurately conveys, but the chemistry between Moore and Turturro is frankly nonexistent. Sure, an unnatural relationship can be realistic, but when the characters don’t even seem to like each other, a romance isn’t very believable.
Meant to provide a realistic look at modern romance and the later stages of love, there is no whirlwind of excitement or thrilling storyline here – just everyday life. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for the most exciting film. It can work when done correctly, but here, it just comes across as a drag, especially when coupled with the film’s awkward and unnatural dialogue.
“Gloria Bell” works as an excellent stage for Moore to flex her acting muscles, but beyond her display, there isn’t much else to keep audiences engaged.
Star Rating: 2 out of 5
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.