June 3, 2019  (Web Review)

Gloria Bell

Lionsgate, 102 min., R, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $24.99, June 4

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Chilean writer-director Sebastián Lelio has remade his Spanish-language film Gloria (2013) for English-speaking audiences, shifting the location from Santiago to Los Angeles. Middle-aged Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is a free-spirited, irrepressibly optimistic divorcée who works as an insurance adjuster by day and spends her evenings drinking and dancing to 1970s-‘80s music at a local nightclub. A joyous party animal, Gloria tells friends: “When the world blows up, I hope I go dancing.” Gloria empathizes with a colleague (Barbara Sukowa) who is fired just before she’s eligible for retirement, and she puts up with an emotionally unbalanced neighbor’s hairless cat that often wanders into her modest, suburban apartment. Naturally, Gloria is concerned about her adult children—her daughter (Caren Pistorius) is off to Sweden to be with her surfer boyfriend, while the wife of her self-centered son (Michael Cera) has left to “find herself,” leaving him to care for their baby—but the pair are relatively low-maintenance and self-sustaining. Underneath her frozen smile, however, Gloria is lonely, so the relationship that is closest to her heart is a romantic entanglement with Arnold (John Turturro), a shy, newly divorced, paintball-park owner she meets at the dance hall. After a family dinner and a trip to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Gloria realizes that Arnold is inexplicably neurotic, particularly when it comes to his two grown, yet overly-dependent daughters and an ex-wife who demands his constant attention. In this slow-paced, bittersweet film, Gloria is somewhat enigmatically gullible, but Moore delivers a natural, nuanced performance. Recommended. (S. Granger)