For his sixth feature, Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio (“A Fantastic Woman”) remade his fourth feature, but, he says, not out of any fealty to his own continuing devotion to his portrait of a spirited middle-aged divorcée with an office job who remains interested in dance, drink and sexual adventure, while maintaining an everyday life.
Instead, he says, it was out of his enduring admiration for Julianne Moore but also her own fervid love for Lelio’s original. Moore is superb: always more life. Lelio says making “Gloria Bell” after “Gloria” was “like doing a known play with a different theater company or having a new band perform a classic song in a fresh way. And this idea was quite liberating. It allowed me to relax and start thinking more about the nuances of the culture that in turn change the character.”
Lelio’s song choices provide Gloria another, insurgent level of inner life, the movie a jukebox musical of the energy of her imagination. The color and light of “Gloria Bell” is also assertively alive, bringing rich, bold surfaces to ordinary, everyday Los Angeles, courtesy of cinematographer Natasha Braier (“The Rover,” “Neon Demon”). The casting is also bright and particular, including John Turturro as a suitor, Michael Cera as one of her sons, Alanna Ubach, Sean Astin, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Brad Garrett, Holland Taylor, Rita Wilson, Chris Mulkey and Barbara Sukowa. 102m. (Ray Pride)
“Gloria Bell” is playing at River East, ICON, Arclight Chicago, Wilmette and other theaters.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.