“Gloria Bell,” starring Julianne Moore in the title role, opens wide today to rave reviews. (The film has a 92 on Rotten Tomatoes.) This “Bell” rings true in many varied cinematic ways. Moore is captivating. She and Sebastian Lelio, the writer and director, have created in a sense an anthem for independent women that stays with you. Moore, already an Oscar winner for “Still Alice,” is first in line once again this year for an Academy nomination.
Chilean born Lelio directed and wrote his first “Gloria” in 2014. (His “A Fantastic Woman,” won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2018.) In this incarnation, Moore plays Gloria who spends her days at a normal 9 to 5 job as in insurance adjuster. Gloria is a patient and understanding Mom to her grown children and a devoted daughter. But at night at various clubs in LA and on the dance floor, her inner hippie and party on persona takes over. She sometimes succumbs loneliness and desperation, but not really
Gloria’s intense and joyful singing in the car to late 70’s and early 80’s hits shows her longing for her past yet keeping her hope and sense of wonder alive. She meets Arnold (John Turturro) at a club, and starts a romance with him that is perplexing because he’s unappealing, weak and a whiner. That’s part of her emotional journey, of course.
The supporting cast is sold: Michael Cera as her son, Brad Garrett as her ex, a nice turn by Rita Wilson as a close friend and the always terrific Holland Taylor as her Mom, all add to the actors showcase that Moore so expertly leads. Lelio and Moore give it their all to tell the worthy story of an average woman. “Gloria Bell” tells her tale in an even keeled, touching, sensitive and bittersweet way.