After seeing the trailer of Gloria Bell pop up on my social media feeds for a few days, I decided to take the plunge and check it out. Well done marketing team, all it took was Julianne Moore laughing and dancing in a lovely green dress to get me on board. Yes, that’s right, all it takes to get me to the movies is having Julianne Moore attached to the film. I have adored Julianne Moore since her days as Frannie Hughes on As the World Turns. Most avid readers have what I like to call a “stop, drop and roll” list of authors, books you’ll purchase without hesitation or further investigation simply because you love the author and trust their work. Well, Julianne Moore is the acting equivalent of that for me. I texted my friend, author Karen Booth, who is always up for a good time, and off we went!
Gloria Bell is directed by Sebastian Lelio and is a remake of his 2013 movie, Gloria which was set in Santiago, Chile. Gloria Bell is set in Los Angeles and like Gloria, it follows the life of an independent, fifty-something divorced, mother of two grown children going about her day-to-day while trying to live her best life. She is not a Pollyanna but she is an optimist, with a radiant smile, a love of dancing, and a penchant for singing loudly and off-key in her car during her ever popular, and often dreaded daily LA commutes. Moore beautifully blends the minutiae of life with the intricacies of freedom and exploration a woman of a certain age encounters. Gloria could’ve easily fallen into a stereotypical mid-life character but Moore’s spin showcases the nuances of Gloria in an extraordinary manner. She is so much more than just a divorcee, a mom, an office worker in the insurance industry with a terrible upstairs neighbor. Gloria is full of hope and love and has a willingness to embrace all that life has to offer. She also knows when to walk away, and does so with style.
One of the storylines Gloria Bell explores is how the ties that bind a mother and child never fade. We see that in Gloria’s interactions with her adult children, each struggling with their own lot in life. The exchanges are humorously passive aggressive at times, but Gloria learned that honestly from her mother, expertly portrayed by Holland Taylor. Even through the tough conversations and gut-wrenching realizations, the love bonds are prominent and unwavering.
I think Karen sums it up eloquently.
“Julianne Moore embodied what it’s like to be a woman in mid-life, where your day-to-day is a mix of the mundane and the new. You’re more self-aware and at ease with yourself, and that brings liberty, but it also causes pain. The love you feel for others is more profound than ever. You wear it on your sleeve. You’re more open to it. But as well all know, it can hurt to love someone, and that’s certainly the case for Gloria. The movie quietly captures the push-and-pull of being a woman and a mom, of living to make others happy and learning to take joy for yourself.”
Then there’s the music. Gloria Bell’s soundtrack is a throwback to all that is and ever was amazing. I challenge you to not sing along, even off-key. We are talking 70’s and 80’s power ballads, from Air Supply to Bonnie Tyler, to Earth, Wind, and Fire on this soundtrack. Of course, Gloria Bell wouldn’t be complete without at least a sampling of Laura Branigan’s “Gloria”. These are definitely the driving tunes we all know and love to belt out in our cars, even when we can’t hit the notes or know all of the right words! The way Lelio weaves this music into the larger story of the movie is as poignant as it is refreshing. The song choices are a powerful commentary and are so well matched to the situations Gloria faces in the movie, it will move you to tears and make you smile at the same time. The musical interludes of this movie are also a palette cleanser of sorts, expertly timed to pop in when the heaviest parts of this movie rattle your soul. Music is hopeful, even in the worst of times. Gloria is definitely on to something, music and an impromptu dance party can clear the mind, free the spirit and release the tensions life sometimes unjustly places on your shoulders. Music, for me at least, is a great escape. My husband often says music calms the demons, that sentiment is joyfully evident in Gloria Bell.
In summary, I highly recommend Gloria Bell. Julianne Moore’s line, “When the world blows up I hope I go down dancing…” is my new mantra. Grab your girlfriends and go for the incredible talents of Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Rita Wilson, et al and stay for the soundtrack and sneaky naked cats.