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Movie Review

Gloria loves a number of things. But dancing has to be near the top of the list. In fact, when talking with other middle-aged friends about—of all things—the end of the world, Gloria makes it clear that if the world someday blows up, she hopes she goes out dancing.

Oh, and the musical score for that apocalyptic day? Anything from the '70s or '80s will do.

Those upbeat dance tunes and soaring love songs headline Gloria's sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs playlist while driving to work. Or just about anywhere. Hey, when you live in L.A., you drive and sing a lot.

Her adult kids may never call, and her apartment may feel a bit hollow after a day spent adjusting insurance claims, but Air Supply and Laura Branigan never let this Gloria down. Truth be told, dancing, drinking and enjoying bouncy hits at a local club not only lift Gloria out of any rut, they also lead her to romance.

Well, maybe that, uh, "romance," is more often than not a light grope session on the dance floor. But the last guy she met turned out to be a pretty solid connection. The dancing was good. What came after was OK, too. And now they feel comfortable enough to sit around naked talking casually.

Granted, this guy, Arnold, has a few issues. If his ex-wife calls or his adult daughters need him, he'll just about pull a muscle running off to help them. Then again, you get divorced from the partner, not the kids, right? At least that's how Arnold explains it.

All right, so he's a little awkward. (Hey, he used to be 280 lbs. before the gastric bypass.) And he can be kinda strange, sometimes being overly posessive and emotionally bottled up all at the same instance. But considering everthing, Gloria consoles herself with the idea that you just don't get a chance to meet someone really special every day.

And that's all Gloria is thinking of, finding that special connection. As her 50s fade into 60, Gloria wants to keep going, keep dancing, keep loving.

I mean, that almost sounds like a bouncy Bee Gees tune right there. Doesn't it?

Positive Elements

Gloria is a flawed-but-relatable individual who doesn't always make the wisest of choices. Still, she makes an effort to stay positive and to keep trying again, even in of the worst of situations.

Spiritual Content

A woman tells what she says is a "biblical" story about the world's first cats being born from the nose of a lion.

Sexual Content

Gloria isn't averse to casual sexual hook ups. Its implied that in the 12 years since her divorce, she's bedded a few men from the dance club she frequents.

On several occasions, the camera watches as Gloria and Arnold remove clothes and engage in various sexual acts. Scenes include breast nudity, and a post-shower shot strategically avoids showing everything as Gloria lies on a bed unclothed. While dressed, Gloria and Arnold embrace and kiss in a number of settings.

Before getting serious with Arnold, Gloria goes to a salon to get a Brazilian wax. The camera watches, though key areas are blocked from view. Several women, in clubs and in business settings, wear low-cut, revealing tops. Gloria's single daughter, Anne, reveals that she's pregnant, and she says she's going to join her professional surfer boyfriend in Sweden.

Violent Content

We hear that Arnold's ex-wife accidentally fell through a glass door and cut herself badly. We see her later in bandages.

Arnold runs a paintball park and leaves some paintball equipment in Gloria's car. After an angry falling out, Gloria goes to Arnolds house, shoots him repeatedly with paintballs and blows out a couple windows on his house.

Crude or Profane Language

Seventeen f-words and a half dozen s-words are joined by a handful of uses of "b--ch." Someone cries out, "Oh god!" We hear a crude allusion to the male anatomy.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Gloria and her friends drink freely at nearly every public and private function they attend. At the dance club, Gloria generally has a martini in her hand. Meanwhile, wine is the drink of choice at dinners and private gatherings. At a birthday party for her son, the whole family drinks profusely; Gloria and her ex-husband, Dustin, both get pretty tipsy, too. He rambles drunkenly about how much they were in love when they were young.

After some bad news, Gloria goes out (in Las Vegas) and gets quite drunk drinking martinis. She falls in with some young gamblers and starts making out with a man at least 20 years her junior. After partying all night, she blacks out and wakes the next morning on a pool lounger at a strange motel.

Gloria smokes repeatedly. Dustin's new wife vapes marijuana. And when Gloria's neighbor accidentally drops a bag of weed on her doorstep, she decides to smoke it in various scenes, each time leaving her bleary eyed and staggering.

Other Negative Elements

Gloria's neighbor is a young man with some obvious emotional problems. At night we can hear him screaming, smashing things and cursing in the next apartment over, sometimes crying that he wants to die. Gloria calls the man's mother, who also happens to be their landlady, but it only results in him pounding on Gloria's door and screaming at her.

Conclusion

Director Sebastián Lelio's Gloria Bell—which is an Americanized remake of his Spanish-language original Gloria—isn't a film of high drama or sweeping story. It's a small, slowly paced character study: a portrait of middle age. Or, more precisely, it’s an unapologetic study of a middle-aged woman's up-and-down struggles with divorce, loneliness, sex, romance, and the cumbersome baggage of past choices and responsibilities.

The film showcases the very talented Julianne Moore. So very often, the camera simply watches her closely and waits. And her nuanced reactions and expressions fit perfectly with the film's underplayed story beats. She quietly draws us in, shows us intimate depths and painful shallows.

Of course, Gloria Bell's well-acted intimacies are uncomfortable and disturbing as well. They can be fleshy and carnal, foul-mouthed and crude, drunken and sloppy. And this pic doesn't turn away from any of it. Instead, the camera stares uncomfortably, and we glimpse Gloria's body and soul. It's an achingly painful portrayal that's already causing some critics to heap praise on Moore and on this unvarnished film.

For many viewers, though, this intimate portrait also offers more than enough cause to turn away.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Drama

Author

Cast

Julianne Moore as Gloria; John Turturro as Arnold; Brad Garrett as Dustin; Caren Pistorius as Anne; Michael Cera as Peter; Rita Wilson as Vicky; Sean Astin as Jeremy

Director

Sebastián Lelio ( )

Distributor

A24

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 22, 2019

On Video

June 4, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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