Friday, June 07, 2019

Gloria Bell – the cinematic equivalent of a warm hug (QFT from 7 June)

Remaking a foreign-language films for an English market always risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater in order to make a commercial success. With Gloria Bell, director Sebastián Lelio returns to his 2013 Chilean Gloria with Julianne Moore in the titular role. Neither of them can do any wrong.

Opening with a slow zoom and a jump cut establishes the distinctive editing style of this character study that keeps the 102 minute film moving. She cuts a fashionable, awkward, worrying figure: a middle-aged divorcee who hangs around nightclubs in the hope of an opportunity to throw herself at some pleasant company. But the scrawny, neighbourhood cat seems to be the only man with a key to her apartment and a chance of finding the key to her heart.
“When the world blows up, I hope I go down dancing.”
No area of her life is off-limits to the camera. Laughing therapies, waxing (nothing to laugh about) and a trip to the paintball park owned by her new squeeze Arnold (John Turturro) are all occasions for the audience to question romance, happiness and manipulation.

Moore delivers a masterclass in awkwardness, navigating the conflicts and emotional family situations with a confidence that lets the audience sit back and enjoy the ride. At no point did the plot get its emotional hooks into me, but unusually that didn’t dampen my enjoyment. Gloria Bell is an incredibly satisfying film that deserves its explosive conclusion and the final song from karaoke queen Gloria.

With a great soundtrack, strong central performances and a thorough sprinkling of quirkiness, Gloria Bell is the cinematic equivalent of a warm hug. Embrace the opportunity to see it while you can at Queen’s Film Theatre from Friday 7 June until Thursday 20 June.

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