Gloria Bell

I’m really turning into a hopeless case, because I went to go see Gloria Bell—dragged two friends along even—knowing only that it was the new(ish*) Sebastián Lelio A24 release with Julianne Moore dancing on the poster. That’s enough, I’m there!

Once you’re there, there is, of course, a story. Julianne Moore is playing the titular Gloria Bell, a divorcée in Los Angeles with two adult children, who’s just living her life and trying to find a new romantic connection. It does involve dancing. Gloria loves to dance. Gloria, like so many Sebastián Lelio characters, is a fascinating, complex woman. You love her, and you disagree with her, you feel for her, you laugh at her, you laugh with her, and you love her again. Gloria is this movie, and so, like getting to know a person, the whole project grows on you. It doesn’t start off bad, just, okay. But by the time we reached one of the most incredible ensemble dinner party scenes outside of a stage acting class, I was so in. What a showcase for everyone.

Other things that I enjoyed:

– When the woman giving Gloria her regular bikini wax pauses to tell some sort of Biblical fable about cats
– Julianne Moore singing along off-key to love songs in her car
– The casting of Michael Cera as her disappointing son, complete with the very challenging concept: Michael Cera with a baby.
– The moment when something was happening that I will not explain for spoilers, and a woman in our small but full theater remarked at normal speaking volume: “Ditch ‘im.”
– Something in Vegas with a merry-go-round that I really can’t explain without losing the magic but it was transcendent and brought us all together even more than the “Ditch ‘im” moment.

*The one other thing I knew was that Lelio adapted this from his own existing work, which is an interesting exercise, re-doing a movie you made five years ago in a different language with a different cast. I wonder what that’s like.

★★

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