Landon Roberts, Contributing Writer
Sebastián Lelio’s “Gloria Bell” presents an entirely different take on coming-of-age films, depicting the challenges of a midlife crisis and the loneliness that sets in once a mother’s children no longer need her.
This is not Lelio’s first attempt with this story. “Gloria Bell” is a remake of his 2013 Chilean film, “Gloria.” However, universal melancholy paired with a midlife crisis lets the film transcend its label as a remake — especially due to the different settings and cultures.
“Gloria Bell” follows the titular character portrayed by Julianne Moore and her re-introduction into the world of love once a new relationship is formed with John Turturro’s Arnold.
While the story itself may sound cliche, the journey that is chronicled contains a deep sadness. The repetitive nature of Gloria’s life before meeting Arnold is quite amusing at first with her bouncing from work to belting out disco classics and finally arriving at dance clubs. As the film continues, repetitive cuts reveal that the actions of escapism are quite trivial. These rapid-fire scenes take up most of the first act, and offer a great insight into the dead-end life Gloria has found herself in.
Between these superficial scenes reside moments of Gloria trying to retain a motherly bond with her now grown children. Her son, played by Michael Cera, is dealing with his own problems. A failing marriage and watching Gloria crave to better her son’s life while her own is unraveling is both heartbreaking and charming.
A lot of this charm comes from Moore’s and Cera’s performances along with witty dialogue. Most of their conversations deal with an emotional subject matter, but Cera’s awkward nature makes these scenes hilarious. His dismissive nature as Gloria searches for some type of emotional connection leads to remarks that are low-key, but hilarious.
Arnold exhibits this same kind of awkward hilarity. The film presents him as this helpless romantic archetype, and his professions of love toward Gloria are so incredibly cheesy that the audience will have a hard time not cracking a smile.
Even when Tuttoro’s Arnold is in the background of the scene, it’s hard to keep your eyes off of him. His absurd facial expressions of confusion and lust bring forward this deep connection of love that is hard to miss.
The love felt between the two is exemplified even further through Lelio’s use of cinematography. Scenes with Arnold and Gloria are paired with vibrant oranges and blues that project their shadows onto the wall. The underlying mood that these colors portray is one of peace and serenity. But as this peace is broken near the end of the film, harsh purples allude to the envy felt between them.
While the cinematography itself was fantastic, the film fails in portraying the mood due to a lackluster score. It’s filled with whimsical fluttery moments, but it becomes so repetitive and mishandled at certain times that the mood on screen doesn’t match the free-spirited nature of the backtrack.
No matter what, the journey that the films takes you on is ultimately one of finding yourself during a midlife crisis. The ending of the film is satisfying and tear-jerking. The trials and tribulations Gloria endured were both hilarious and saddening, but the ending offers you a glimpse that maybe these hardships must be experienced to truly find oneself.
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