‘Gloria Bell’: a he-said, she said film review

John Turturo and Jullianne Moore star in “Gloria Bell,” the story of a middle-aged woman traveling a path of self-discovery.

John Turturo and Jullianne Moore star in “Gloria Bell,” the story of a middle-aged woman traveling a path of self-discovery.


By Tom and Marilyn Jozwik

Published March 23, 2019

“Gloria Bell” is the story of a middle-aged couple (Julianne Moore, John Turturro) who seemingly fall head over heels in love on a dance floor.

Then again, to paraphrase the axiom, all is not necessarily as it seems.

Director Sebastian Lelio is an Oscar winner (like Moore), and the R-rated movie is, reportedly, a painstaking replica of his six-year-old Chilean production, “Gloria.” Brad Garrett, Rita Wilson and Michael Cera are also in the cast.

HE: Apparently critical opinion has been positive, though I’m not sure why. Main actors Moore and Turturro did good work, but neither was a particularly likable character. Stories without a likable character often are not worth watching.

SHE: I felt the same way. While I have always liked Moore’s work—especially in “Still Alice”—I just didn’t see much of a story here.  A middle-aged, divorced mother of two and grandmother of one likes to go dancing at a club, meets a guy, sparks fly and they end up in bed after just meeting. Frankly, that seems pretty stupid. She seems like a good, caring mom, willing to help her grown children and grandson, has a good job and friends. So why be so reckless? Midlife crisis? I suppose. But I don’t know enough about her, or feel enough for her, to really care.

HE: At the risk of sounding sexist, Moore still has a nice body, which she shows off undraped to the waist—to the point that her nudity becomes gratuitous. The first quarter or so of the movie was best, when I erroneously sensed a sweet older-couple romance developing. A bit later, I thought, in view of Gloria’s helpfulness to her kids, her own mother’s helpfulness to her and Turturro’s character’s concern for his adult daughters, that the film was sending the message that we can never shake off our parents … and that we shouldn’t want to, because we will always need them. Wrong again. Ultimately, I didn’t find much of any message at all, only a pair of uninteresting people I wouldn’t care to be friends with. I might’ve felt sorry for Gloria, even applauded her climactic act of revenge, had I been certain Turturro’s character had been two-timing her. But the movie doesn’t make this crystal clear. And I didn’t buy the temporary breakup and subsequent quick rapprochement. Also, hearing Moore sing was unpleasant.

SHE: And she does plenty of singing in the car to tunes that I presume are supposed to reflect her state of mind at the time, as she travels this path of discovering herself. I also was hoping to find some humor here, but there was virtually none, except maybe for the hairless cat that keeps showing up in her apartment. (How does something that size find a way in?) A much more enjoyable middle-aged romance was the Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy, “Enough Said,” from a few years back.      B-

HE: Virtually devoid of humor, yeah. Not all that much of a drama, either, when you think about it. My favorite character was Gloria’s ex-husband, a too-small role played by Brad Garrett. But Michael Cera, another cast member, is an actor I never much cared for, which hardly improved the movie for me. And, yes, “Enough Said” was much better.     C