The soundtrack was FIRE.
In addition to Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis, Julianne Moore rounds out my list of top five favourite dramatic actresses. I love her. I think she’s extremely talented, utterly charming, and seems like she’d be fun to get a drink with. Couldn’t you imagine doing shots with Julianne Moore? Yeah, you definitely could. So, when I heard that Moore’s new movie was being lauded as one of her all-time best, and that in it she is a true tour de force, I knew I had to see it. Seriously, you can see for yourself on the movie poster below, but everyone has been absolutely raving about Gloria Bell (2018). Well, after seeing the movie for myself…it was perfectly nice. That’s it. No better, no worse.
A re-imagining of director Sebastián Lelio’s original film Gloria (2013), Gloria Bell follows the titular character in her late 50s, years after divorcing her husband. With her children grown and a desire to not let her life pass her by, Gloria frequents her local disco where she meets Arnold, whom she tentatively begins a relationship with.
Honestly, that’s kind of the whole story. Though it’s advertised as a romantic-drama, Gloria Bell more or less flirts with these elements but ultimately fails to deliver anything genuinely dramatic or romantic. Really, the movie is just a loose collection of tedious things that happen to people later in life with no real thread tying them together into one cohesive story. During the nearly two-hour runtime, Gloria’s co-worker gets laid off with no explanation, she gets eye drops that her doctor says she’ll need to take for the rest of her life and it’s never brought up again, her daughter is mentioned to be pregnant and then just moves away…so many things happen and they never have any great impact or effect on Gloria or her life. I was confused to say the least. It’s like the message of this movie is, “life only gets worse and fucks you over more the older you get.” The lacklustre script should receive most of the blame for the confusion but I’d be remiss to not also accuse the score. It’s so damn misleading. To its credit, it’s a unique and beautiful piece of music, that gave me goosebumps to listen to. However, because it’s so dynamic and cool, it always made me think that something sinister, shocking, or interesting is going to happen and plot twist, it never does.
Speaking of music, the undisputed star of this movie is its soundtrack. As I mentioned, Gloria frequents this disco that caters to an older clientele, and in doing so, we as the audience are treated to the ABSOLUTE BEST playlist of 70s and 80s music. I made a mental note to add several of the songs to my own playlist when I got home. As soon as the movie started and it opened on Gloria at the disco, immediately I was like, “YASS Julianne Moore! Look at you jiving and jamming to Gloria Gaynor and Earth, Wind, & Fire! Get’cha life!” As the story progressed and Gloria was met with more obstacles in her life, the movie cleverly chose songs to play that mirrored whatever emotional state she was in. Sometimes music is the only way to save a movie from being considered 100 per cent boring. Sorry Gloria Bell.
Julianne Moore is perfectly delightful and I can honestly say that I don’t have single negative critique for her performance. Though, I don’t necessarily have any specific positive critique either. The problem with the performances in Gloria Bell, and the movie as a whole, is that everything is just so…uneventful. Though everything is lovely, well-done, and fine, the movie fails to generate any true excitement or interest in its story or characters. It honestly could have easily been a lot more dramatic or comedic, or even a satisfying blend of both. Multiple times it touched on things that could have been either hilarious or heartbreaking and instead just gave us the watered down version of things. You could probably take a thirty minute nap in the middle, wake up, and nothing would have really changed.
A beautifully-made later in life love story, I can’t find any reason to damn Gloria Bell, but I also can’t find any reason to recommend anyone watch it. Except for the soundtrack which, again, is AMAZING. Oh, younger readers! It may be worth checking out simply to see Michael Cera play a father. How weird is that? I feel like it was just yesterday I was watching him play a socially awkward teen in Superbad (2007). I was shook.
Will you take a chance on Gloria Bell?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!