‘Gloria Bell’ Review: A Total Eclipse of Your Heart



Julianne Moore’s performance in Sebastian Lelio’s film “Gloria Bell” takes audiences on a journey through both joy and loneliness than anyone can relate to.


“Gloria Bell” taught me two things the mediocrity of life is eternal, and old people never silence their cell phones. Seriously, if you take a shot everytime someone’s phone rings in the movie, the RA on duty will give you a citation. Chilean director Sebastian Lelio reimagines his 2013 film “Gloria” in this English remake. Unlike most English remakes, Lelio flawlessly made the transition.

Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is a middle-aged divorcee living in L.A. She spends her days at work and splits her nights between dancing and spending time with her adult children. One night while dancing, Gloria meets recent divorcee Arnold (John Turturro) and is suddenly caught trying to navigate a turbulent relationship with him. Arnold struggles with his daughters who rely on him too much, while Gloria longs to be there for her children who seemingly don’t need her.

Moore delivers one of her best performances in years and will definitely be the part of the film that people still talk about in the future. Gloria is in every scene of the movie, so Moore signed up for no easy task. She almost carries the film on her back, and she does it brilliantly. Moore is also an executive producer on the film, a testament to how much she stood behind the project. In a Q&A, Lelio said that it was Moore who gave him the motivation to remake “Gloria” at all. Turturro gives a strong performance as the understable yet infuriating Arnold. However, he’s ultimately acted under the table by Moore. Just like Gloria, Lelio makes sure the audience is a little skeptical of Arnold the whole time, keeping him at a distance.

For a film about a middle-aged woman, “Gloria Bell” is shockingly relatable. Gloria goes to yoga, shoots paintballs and goes out dancing with youthful joy. Yet, Lelio can thrust you into a room full of people, and you will still feel the loneliness that Gloria is experiencing in that scene. Gloria is ultimately content but still trying to find happiness every day. While it is clear that Gloria’s children love and appreciate her, they don’t need her in the same capacity that they did growing up. As a college student living away from home, this struck a chord with me. I saw myself in her son, Peter (Michael Cera), and my own mother in Gloria.

Visually, “Gloria Bell” is a stunning mix of both Lelio and cinematographer Natasha Braier’s (“The Neon Demon,” “The Rover”) styles. The film employs a neon color palette, similar to Lelio’s Academy-Award-winning film “A Fantastic Woman;” however, it is somehow softer than neon usually would be. The set design, costuming and lighting all contribute to that color palette as well. It creates a comfortable yet optimistic feeling within the viewer. Lelio employs past collaborator, Soledad Salfate (“A Fantastic Woman”), as editor. “Gloria Bell” utilizes a perfect mix of continuity and smash editing throughout the film. More than once, the film does a hard sound and image cut for comedic effect that works perfectly.

Fellow “A Fantastic Woman” alumnus Matthew Herbert composed the music for “Gloria Bell.” “I always thought of ‘Gloria’ as a kind of hidden musical,” said Lelio, “and that is the same with ‘Gloria Bell.’” The original music perfectly complemented the story-driving songs throughout the movie such as “No More Lonely Nights” by Paul McCartney and Laura Branigan’s “Gloria.” My favorite would have to be the use of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at the climax of the film. Throughout the movie, Gloria sings along to the car radio, with the exception of that song. Gloria drives to Arnold’s house, silently listening to the song, sending shivers down my spine.

“Gloria Bell” is a demonstration of a seasoned filmmaker at work. Lelio proves that the language of film is universal. It doesn’t matter what your age is, where you’re from or where you’re going; there’s a little Gloria in all of us.