We all know that Julianne Moore is gorgeous. She’s strangely ageless with her flawless skin and excellent facial structure. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so… luminous as she is in Gloria Bell. Playing the titular character, Moore is marvelously warm and magnetic, and even if the movie is not about much, you can’t blame a filmmaker for wanting to highlight a character like Gloria.
Gloria Bell is a 50-something woman who has a day job, a couple grown kids, and an ex-husband whom she is on good terms with. She likes singing to music in the car, likes going dancing, and has close friends. In short, hey, her life is not bad! In fact, her life is so strangely normal that it just emphasizes how you never see Glorias headlining their own film (like they do in their regular lives). But that is the subject of another graduate student thesis…
One night at her favorite club where she and other boomers go to let loose, she meets a nice divorcé named Arnold (John Turturro). They awkwardly flirt, tumble into bed together, and fall into like with each other. Arnold admits he is still raw from his recent split from his family, and he perhaps it a bit too smitten too quickly for Gloria’s taste, but she likes him well enough to bring him to her family’s social gathering. In a brilliant scene all-too-familiar to wallflowers, Arnold, feeling like he has disappeared in a room where everyone else knows and loves each other, literally leaves the gathering without notice and without a word. Her world seems to be rich and full with or without him.
When you watch Gloria Bell, you can’t help but notice this non-revolutionary story seems quietly revolutionary just for the fact that it exists. Stuff happens, the movie kind of relies too heavily on pop songs in the soundtrack, and unsurprisingly Gloria ends up dancing to the 80s pop hit “Gloria” by Laura Brannigan. But take a moment to acknowledge that this woman is presented as an individual–not simply labeled as a mom, an (ex-)wife, a lover, or a friend. She’s all that, but she is just herself. How shockingly refreshing!