Prepare yourself for the story of everyday life unfolding for Gloria Bell, a 50-something divorcee, played convincingly by Julianne Moore, looking for companionship by drinking and dancing at Los Angeles dance clubs. The film is a remake for writer/director Sebastián Lelio who created the original 2013 Chilean version starring Paulina Garcia, an award-winning Chilean actress.
The story moves at a slow pace as we witness Gloria’s life, including the messiness of her family and mundane job at an insurance firm. Her world starts to shift to the positive when she meets Arnold, played by John Turturro, at the bar in a dance club and in an ironic twist he asks, “Are you always this happy?” Dancing leads to a relationship, which at first seems to work for both of them. It is a touching scene when Arnold reads Latin American poetry to Gloria, but both have complicated family dynamics that ultimately keep them apart.
They do have fun along the way as she discovers adventure and how to shoot a paintball at his adventure park. Arnold is an interesting character with a military background, having recently undergone weight loss surgery and it is funny and awkward in the bedroom scenes when she unfastens a truss around his stomach.
At her son Peter’s (Michael Cera) birthday party, the combination of her ex-husband (Brad Garrett), his new wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and pregnant daughter Veronica (Alanna Ubach) and all the family reminiscing becomes too much for Arnold and he skips out on the evening. It takes a lot for Gloria to forgive him and they reunite for a trip to Las Vegas, which turns out to be the last straw for this relationship fraught with family drama. Gloria does the absolute right thing when she puts Arnold’s phone in the soup to stop it from ringing.
Moore draws you into her anxiety and ho hum existence as she struggles to find the happiness that seems to elude her. She finally gives in to befriending the hairless ugly sphinx cat that keeps sneaking into her apartment and learns to deal with the landlord’s son who is her crazy upstairs neighbor.
“When the world blows up, I hope to go down dancing,” she tells her friends. This movie is full of great ’70s and ’80s retro dancing music. The last five minutes were my favorite part as the song “Gloria” played as Gloria sits at a table at her friend Vicky’s (Rita Wilson) daughter’s wedding. In the end, Gloria seems to gather her strength to go on and face the world again.
Don’t expect a catchy story, but rather the tale of an ordinary life, filled with family and relationship drama, drug use and how Gloria navigates through it. I was surprised at the extent of the nudity by Moore. Gloria is relatable but hopefully makes you thankful for the life you have.
Movie times: click here
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Written By: Sebastián Lelio
Actors: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Rita Wilson, Sean Astin, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Running Time: 102 minutes
Rating: R (for language, sexuality, nudity, and some drug use)