Chew's Reviews - Gloria Bell

By Gary Chew | 

Opens March 21 | 

Julianne Moore has won an Oscar for Best Actress, received two nominations for Best Actress and two more nominations for Best Supporting Actress. She's a movie heroine of mine. I'm not sure if I'm able to be totally impartial writing about this woman who's played, so well, a truly amazing array of roles. But partially, here's a must-see list I hope (for your sake) you've gotten around to: The Hours, Map of The Stars, Boogie Nights, A Single Man, Still Alice, TheHunger Games (franchise), Freeheld, Children Of Men, Far From HeavenThe Big Lebowski,and on the cable machine, Moore brilliantly doing Sarah Palin in Game Change. Julianne struck me more like Palin in this HBO production than the former part time governor of Alaska herself.

Gloria Bell is a divorced 50s-ish woman. She drops in on bars that allow customers to dance with an implied vow to imbibe, at least, reasonable quantities of alcohol. She dances with the fellows … and, sometimes across the crowded room, alone. You know, since the character is being played by Julianne Moore, that she's going to get “hit on” ... with none of those fifty-some years getting in the way.

Meet Arnold (John Turturro). Drawn by her unassuming magnetism, Arnold haplessly moves over alongside Gloria at the bar. Imagining Turturro's eyes sparkling on seeing Gloria in the semi-dark loudness of the pub is easy. In a manner of speaking, Turturro assumes a sort of leading man in his part. Despite Arnold's year long condition of being divorced too, he still has cumbersome ties to his ex … and especially their two young adult daughters. (You're mostly aware of them via Arnold's phone conversations with them.)

Chiléan director Sebastián Lelio has dutifully gone to school on this Gloria character. In 2013, it was his first Gloria. Then, sans Gloria, came A Fantastic Woman in 2017, as well as a movie dealing with lesbianism up against conservative religious attitudes. Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams were the rule-breaking women in Disobedience.

The second and current Lelio take on the Gloria role lends itself more to heterosexuality. In A Fantastic Woman, the androgynous lead character transgenders over to the gal side of things; that element being removed for Moore's Gloria. But still, after all is said and done with this “new” Gloria, there lingers a suggestion that women really have more “proximity” ... if you will ... to those of their own sex than men muster with theirs. I've long thought this as obvious. I just might be uneasily jealous about that … and probably somewhat enchanted. And that could be due to maleness.

Lelio is supremely gender sensitive with these movies he's done. I can't think of a better person to portray this Gloria than Moore. She knows she's still got it, although sensing that “over-the-hillness” any human being comes to find on his or her way through and beyond the middle years.

If you take in Gloria Bell, you'll discover it's not everyday one sees a middle-aged leading female film star display … with such confidence … nearly all of herself in a motion picture. It caused me to flash on Moore in a scene with Mark Wahlberg in the earlier and famously infamous Boogie Nights, when I was just beginning to pleasantly discover there is a Julianne Moore person. Praise the Lord!

It seems the only thing left for me, for such future diversion, would be Julianne and Helen Mirren being cast together in an über womanish movie. Sebastián could do the film with his eyes shut. And John Turturro wouldn't to need apply, although he is terribly convincing being the dude who shows up for Gloria Bell… for a while. In fact, this film could easily have been titled “Turturro Takes A Powder.”

Copyright © 2019 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.


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