I had a good weekend at the movies this past weekend, but when I saw the new character study Gloria Bell, an older woman sitting next to me declared to her friend as the closing credits started that there was two hours of her life she’d never get back.
Joke’s on her! The movie’s only about an hour and forty minutes long!
But I had my own thoughts on the movie.
Julianne Moore is Gloria Bell, a middle-aged woman, divorced for over a decade, mother of two adult kids with their own things going on. She works for an insurance company by day, and in the evenings, when she isn’t trying to sleep while her landlady’s son is making a lot of noise or a hairless cat somehow keeps getting into her apartment, she goes dancing. And while out there, she meets Arnold (John Turturro), a more newly divorced man who also has two adult kids and loves dancing. The two start dating and…well, it goes from there.
Gloria Bell isn’t the most plot-heavy of movies. Instead, it’s a character study of the title character, She comes across as a bit lonely, but her life isn’t terrible. It’s average in many ways. Essentially, this is a showcase for Julianne Moore, and she takes it and runs. Her Gloria is a woman who decides to shake her life up a bit, and while she never says so directly, she may actually need that shake up. Whatever Gloria needs or wants out of life, she never actually says out loud. It’s implied, she says it through body language and facial expression that she’s leading a life of perhaps quiet desperation. And then she meets a man who can maybe make her life a little better. Turturro’s Arnold may seem like an unlikely romantic interest, but it works as a contrast as Gloria and Arnold have relationships with their ex-spouses and adult children that are very different from each other, as is how they relate to those characters. As the story follows Gloria around, she comes a bit out of her shell and becomes a stronger person as a result. This isn’t a movie of earth-shattering changes. It’s a story of one woman trying to make an average life better. 8.5 out of 10 symbolic paintball guns.