Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is a single divorcee of 12 years. When driving the car, she sings along with classic pop tunes. When working, she gives positive advice to co-workers. And when talking with her two grown children, she offers unconditional support, even when they don’t seem to want (or need) it. She seems like a happy 50-ish-year old woman.
When she goes out at night to local dance clubs, I never got the impression from the movie named after her, Gloria Bell, that she was necessarily looking for love. She seems content when she runs into an old friend or hits the dance floor all by herself. It’s only when she returns home to her apartment late at night that I began to sense her loneliness. She has a loud upstairs neighbor and might have to pop a pill or two to get any sleep.
Then she meets Arnold (John Turturro) and, the way I interpret what subsequently happens, Gloria is no longer happy. Relationships are complicated. He may not be the man she thought when she almost instantly falls in love with him. For me, Gloria Bell is an anti-romance. By the time it concludes, Gloria learns a lesson and it doesn’t provide for the typical Hollywood ending.
I say things like, “I got the impression” and “I interpret” because you might find the movie to be something different, a romantic comedy with some unconventional twists and turns. There are funny moments, but I wouldn’t call Gloria Bell a comedy. For me, those moments come from the stress the situations cause the characters, some needed comic relief, if you will.
Whatever it is, Gloria Bell is also a showcase for Julianne Moore. Over the years, she has unconsciously become one of my favorite actors, and she is without a doubt the best thing about this movie. Here, she plays her age, give or take a few years, and she is beautiful. The fact that a 58-year old woman exposes herself… her entire self… on screen for long scenes, also represents an inner beauty and “comfort of being.”
Turturro is good, as well, but since his character literally runs from conflict, I’m not sure his performance has as much impact as Moore’s. I didn’t like him from the start; I felt there was something he was hiding. While it turns out he is, it’s nothing malicious. Arnold is a complex person, trying to do right by everyone except himself. Let’s just say he has way too much baggage to start a new relationship.
Gloria Bell is more rewarding when Arnold is not onscreen and Gloria is left dealing with his… I can’t think of any other word than “bullshit.” During the final scene, in which Gloria attends a wedding and is coaxed onto the dance floor after many scenes of not singing in the car, not encouraging co-workers, and not supporting her children, is incredible to watch. A range of emotions explodes from her body and the entire evolution of her character is demonstrated in only a few moments.
I found Gloria Bell to be extremely personal to me. I saw a lot of myself in Gloria. The themes of happiness and loneliness and how they don’t have to be mutually exclusive struck a chord. However, I am eager to talk with other people who have seen it. Are those feelings universal, or is my reaction an anomaly? I do recommend you see it, but then please let me know what you think about it.