Rob Reviews "Gloria Bell"
With “A Fantastic Woman,” director Sebastian Leilo put himself on a larger radar by telling the story of transgender people and the world that surrounds them, and following it up with the controversial independent film “Disobedience” was another bold move. From there, he chose to veer away a bit from hot button topics by changing the type of story he told completely to American audiences by revisiting a 2013 film of his with “Gloria Bell”.
A film that is more of a character study than it is a narrative, Julianne Moore plays the title role, a middle-aged woman who has come to grips with her divorce and is simply trying to live her best life. With grown children that are out of the house (Michael Cera and Caren Pistorius) who have issues of their own to an ex-husband (Brad Garrett) who doesn’t understand why his relationships with the kids isn’t as strong as his ex-wife’s to even a new love interest (John Turturro) who does not have issues as much as he has subscriptions of his own, Gloria floats between her career to her personal life in a way that is almost voyeuristic as Leilo takes the audience deep into each and every aspect of her emotions and experiences. Also look out for a small role from Sean Astin that just seems to get… odd.
Given the nature of this film, it can seem disjointed at times, but that is what life is. There is no linear nature to our existence, nor is there to Gloria’s. I took this journey with her, finding myself confused when she was, content when she was, and even frustrated when she did. I kept hearing the classic Garth Brooks song in my head during this film: “this learning to live again is killing me” as Moore seems to envelop herself into the role as if it were the comfortable dresses that Gloria loads her wardrobe with. Along with other cast members like Jeanne Tripplehorn, Holland Taylor, and Rita Wilson, Leilo takes what could have turned into an ensemble piece and works with his actors in a way where they get their time while enhancing what Moore does because this is HER vehicle to drive.
Although I still prefer “Woman” as a film, this is no slouch on its own. Make no mistake: this IS an independent film, so the effects are minimal and there is no unnecessary “flash-bang” to what is going on, but everything fits together in that slice-of-life way that can give all of us of a certain age something to identify with. I am not sure I would rush out to get a ticket here, but don’t avoid it if it comes your way if for no other reason than a soundtrack that could take you back to a simpler time in life.