Blu-ray Review: Gloria Bell (2018)

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Related Review:
Gloria (2013)

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Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is a woman who doesn't wait to be asked to dance. Looking out at the world with a hunger for life as big as her glasses, she joins in, as happy to move to her own beat as she is to follow someone else's lead.

Literally blending into the scenery during dull days at her nine to five office job and bad nights, the divorced fifty-something comes alive on the dance floors of the L.A. clubs she frequents.

Often dressed in something shimmery, she sways to the music with an energy so infectious that others feel pulled to her side, including a train wreck future beau (played with warmth and pathos by John Turturro) who seems to hope that a relationship with Gloria will set him back on the right track.

A remake of the 2013 Chilean film Gloria, which was also directed by Sebastián Lelio, Gloria Bell finds the filmmaker translating the film for an American audience in a surprisingly seamless way.

And while much of it feels like a scene-by-scene remake, the film's cool, slightly blown out, '70s album cover meets Punch Drunk Love reminiscent cinematography (from Argentinian lensman and Neon Demon veteran Natasha Braier) draws us into the new world of Gloria by giving it an everyday yet ethereal classic California look.

Featuring another luminously revealing turn by Julianne Moore, the actress honors Paulina García's original performance while still managing to make the role her own. Losing herself completely in the part, one of the reasons Bell works as well as it does for those already familiar with Gloria is because Moore's selfless, understated turn makes us acutely aware of the film's outstanding ensemble cast.

Although still every bit a one woman show in English as it was in Spanish, by chronicling not only her new relationship with Turturro but her dynamic with friends and family as well, Bell makes the ordinary extraordinary and highlights the film's supporting roles.

From talented chameleon Turturro reading Chilean poetry to Gloria to scene-stealing moments by Brad Garrett as her ex at an awkward event to Rita Wilson's turn as her opinionated best friend, the characters on the screen and the world they inhabit feels consistently grounded, lived in, and real throughout.

A humanistic tale about a single senior woman's quest to live life on her own terms with or without a partner and on or off the dance floor, it goes without saying that Gloria Bell's plot arc won't surprise anyone who's seen the recently released original. However, it's hard not to get caught up by the music made by Moore and Lelio in the type of American film — centered on real, actual adults we feel we know — that we rarely see on the screen anymore.

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