By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
As with all remakes, this movie begs the question of whether or not a remake is absolutely necessary. Well, I suppose if a remake is to be accomplished , it should be done by the same writer and director. In 2013, Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio released a remarkable film titled Gloria. Since then, this movie has received much critical acclaim. Now for whatever reason, Lelio has returned with an American version of his film that serves as a reimagining of the original with a few changes here and there. Now that I have watched both versions of the story, I can honestly say that Gloria Bell actually takes Lelio’s poignant story to even more levels of enjoyment. It is one of those rare cases where the remake actually outshines the original.
Julianne Moore stars as Gloria, a bored divorcee who longs for love, excitement and happiness in her life. When not working at her soul-crushing office job, Gloria often hits up her favorite nightclub where she can dance and find some joy in her life. Thongs get a bit more exciting (at first) when a night of drinks and dancing leads to a hook up with fellow divorcee Arnold (John Turturro). Thus begins a torrid love affair with the sweet and sensitive gentleman. The fun doesn’t quite last too long, however, as she discovers that Arnold lacks the backbone to effectively separate his old life from his new one.
Though I very much enjoyed and appreciated Lelio’s first attempt at this story, I feel that some elements are either missing or lacking. In his new attempt, there is an added element of humor that enriches the story as a whole. Also, some of the supporting characters get better developed and fleshed in the remake. Sebastian Lelio hasn’t simply translated his movie for English speaking audiences, he has actually added to what he already created. This makes Gloria Bell move of a “do-over” as opposed to a carbon copy.
Also, the cast in this movie is absolutely fantastic. As Gloria, Julianne Moore brings to the character much charisma, delicacy, and humor to the role. John Turturro appropriately turns on the charm and passion in the beginning, but then superbly embodies weakness, fear, and frustration as the story unfolds. As Gloria’s children, Michael Cera and Gloria Pistorious not only benefit from better writing than the actors in the original film, they make their characters much more accessible and genuine.
And that accessibility and better development of its story and characters is what makes Gloria Bell the better movie. Don’t get me wrong; Lelio’s Gloria is not at all a bad movie. It is a very good film that is just a tad undercooked. Now that Sebastian Lelio has had some time to work on that recipe, he has returned with a movie that is superior and much more enjoyable than his previous take.