Gloria Bell (2018)

Gloria Bell, starring Julianne Moore, is director Sebastián Lelio’s ill-advised English-language remake of his Gloria.


by Alexa Dalby

Gloria Bell

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

I am so sorry but I cannot subscribe to the rosy critical glow that surrounds Gloria Bell, Sebastián Lelio’s frame-for-frame remake of his own, Chilean-set, Gloria.

Apparently Julianne Moore desperately wanted the juicy role of a middle-aged woman finding herself by navigating the quagmire of singledom in the US. Lelio’s original Spanish-language film starred a wonderful (award-winning) Pauline García as that central character.

Transposing the setting of the film from Santiago to Los Angeles has drained it of its life and authenticity, along with its political and social context. And its better music soundtrack. It just simply doesn’t work.

Middle-class residents of California are by definition privileged in comparison to most other environments and their problems are first-world. Despite her ridiculous out-sized specs, Julianne Moore as Gloria Bell is much too beautiful for her role and, for her inadequate love-interest Arnold (John Turturro), she’s clearly way, way out of his league. The result is an implicit patronising condescension in their relationship. And in Gloria’s almost childlike, extrovert enjoyment in just about anything. As she’s portrayed in the film by Moore, Los Angeles Gloria doesn’t really need to spend the film finding herself as Chilean Gloria did – she already has.

Sadly, Gloria Bell and Julianne Moore’s persona, did not work their uplifting magic on me. You can compare the trailers of the two films here. That’s it.

Gloria is released on 7 June 2019 in the UK.

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