Moore rings true in Gloria Bell

Julianne Moore and John Turturro in Gloria Bell
Julianne Moore and John Turturro in Gloria Bell

Gloria Bell (M)

Directed by: Sebastian Lelio

Starring: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Caren Pistorius, Michael Cera

Reviewed by: Martin Turner

4 stars out of 5

In cinemas now

Julianne Moore is adrift in a pulsing sea of silver in Gloria Bell, Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s English-language remake of his 2013 film Gloria.

She’s been divorced for 12 years and is more than happy to share her status with potential middle-aged suitors in the thriving Los Angeles singles scene played out at buzzing nightclubs.

They’re not exactly lining up for her charms and as often as not she’s home alone after satisfying her love of dancing. Her loneliness is expressed in frequent sing-a-longs to love-lorn ballads of yesteryear (with a surprising preponderance of Australian hits).

She’s involved in the complicated adult lives of her children (Michael Cera and Caren Pistorius), but in that slightly removed way that all Western societies seem to have perfected.

Indeed, it’s the everywoman aspect of Lelio’s direction that hits home at every turn.

All of a sudden, like a song that races to number 1 with a bullet, recently divorced Arnold (John Turturro) enters the scene. He has charm and intensity (Turturro trademarks) but relationships with his heavily dependent daughters and ex-wife weigh on the developing romance in niggling and then slightly disturbing ways.

Lelio has a knack for creating extended portraits of interior and exterior lives by lingering longer in scenes than most directors would consider acceptable. It can be cloying and uncomfortable but eventually it comes to resemble something like a life, with its impulses, drives, motivations and parts that don’t necessarily add up.

Moore was a great fan of Gloria, and it was only after Lelio understood her passion for the role he decided to recreate it for a wider audience.

It takes a great actress to bring out the necessary emotional register in a movie with the subtlety of Gloria Bell; it could easily topple into melodrama with lesser lights. Yet it’s her light that she hides for long periods. Compare this to the luminosity she brings to the brilliant woman unravelling from Early Onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice.

Gloria is no star in any of the acceptable ways we judge exceptionalness. But she moves, she shimmies, she has momentum, propulsion. She is relatively unafraid of where she finds herself. Gloria Bell rings true.