Best of The Fests: Gloria Bell
This month has been all about festival favorites from last year that did get as much traction as films like A Star is Born or Roma, and today we finish our series with a film that premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival but didn’t receive a theatrical release until this year. Gloria Bell was directed by Sebastián Lelio and written by Lelio and Alice Johnson Boher. The comedy-drama is an English language remake of Lelio’s 2013 film, Gloria. It stars Julianne Moore as Gloria with John Turturro co-starring as her love interest, Arnold. The film’s cast also includes Michael Cera, Caren Pistorius, Brad Garrett, Holland Taylor, Jeanne Triplehorn, and Rita Wilson. While this film has primarily slipped under the radar, critics out of TIFF spoke highly of Moore’s performance.
So, what made this feature stand out for critics?
A Killer Lead
Julianne Moore can easily be considered one of the greats, and she plays this particular heroine flawlessly. Gloria is an awkward character at times, trying to figure out where she fits in life with her mundane job and two grown children who barely need her. She finds joy in dancing at clubs in the evenings that are populated by other single people her age. Moore nails all of these aspects of Gloria’s life and keeps the character’s quiet desperation lingering at all times. It’s a powerful performance with its nuance and subtlety.
This film uses music in a way that few people dare to attempt. The recognizable songs are used to dictate Gloria’s every emotion and her romantic journey. They amplify her moments of loneliness and happiness, and the film aptly uses “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in a way that does the song justice. The score itself is also unique with its light, jazzy essence supplying a whimsical footnote to Gloria’s experiences. It’s almost hard to explain, yet it perfectly captures Gloria’s emotions and wellbeing.
Also, any scene of Moore singing in the car feels incredibly authentic and manages to complement the film’s ongoing use of music.
The Subtle Comedy
The film does not call for laugh out loud moments, but just like the main character, it has funny moments subtly layered throughout the movie. Turturro and Moore have their characters interacting in awkwardly funny ways, and you cannot help but be entertained by their shared moments on screen. To be labeled as a comedy-drama, the film also carries this sense of tragedy along with it. Gloria’s story keeps not going as planned, and while she definitely has a moment of clarity at the end, it’s comically tragic the way the story of this character unfolds.
At the end of the day, Gloria Bell is a unique indie film that contains some great performances. It is expertly directed by Lelio, and the technical aspects of the film are just as impressive as the events playing out on screen.
So, have you ever watched Gloria Bell? Did you find it as enjoyable as the critics did coming out of TIFF?
Comment, and let us know! And stay tuned next week as we explore a brand new series on the blog.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.