Acclaimed Chilean director Sebastian Lelio relocates his 2013 Oscar-winner Gloria to Los Angeles for a chance for consummate actress Julianne Moore (Still Alice, Far From Heaven, Magnolia, The End of the Affair, et. al.) to shine at the right time.
She’s more than fine in Lelio’s Gloria Bell that could make a sizable dent with distaff viewers stateside though nearly a replica of its progenitor. A little dimming and a maid are part of the minor alterations by Lelio with Moore having much input in what could be abutting chaos.
For those not familiar with the touching ebullience of Gloria instilled in large part by Paulina Garcia, not as comely as Moore here donning glasses. The divorced insurance adjuster Ms. Bell is looking for impetus in her milieu, as well as intense affection, by endowing vivacity into her isolation. She’s dying to have her children include them in their lives, though they aren’t too obliging. Her son (Michael Cera) has a family and daughter (Alanna Ubach) is on a career path that could be more distancing.
There is also distress over prospective suitor, ex-Marine Arnold, a pitiable, sycophantic John Turturro (Fading Gigolo, Quiz Show, and reuniting two decades later with Moore after the cult hit The Big Lebowski). The paintball entrepreneur has issues with his ex-wife whose calls he has trouble answering. As well as dealing with irresponsible daughters. Familiar faces on view include Brad Garrett (as Gloria’s ex) and Sean Astin (remembered from The Goonies and The Lord of the Rings trilogies). Also, the esteemed veteran Barbara Sukowa (Hannah Arendt, Atomic Blonde, Cradle Will Rock) is pleasing in a brief appearance.
But, if Gloria Bell doesn’t excel or surprise like the original did, especially in more intimate moments, the sublime comes to the fore from Moore’s connection with a woman who rises against the ineffectual and indecisive while occasionally saturnine with skill that is relatable in our times. The tunes are belted out in what is an effectively rendered cover of a familiar, if winning melody.