Gloria Bell's comfort-food-for-the-soul soundtrack—including a half-dozen earworms from Olivia Newton-John, Bonnie Tyler and Laura Branigan—is a near-perfect playlist for anyone bumping or grinding their way through middle age. But may I humbly suggest the addition of just one more mid-70s classic to the soundtrack? For the life of me, while watching I couldn't help but think of Linda Ronstadt's 1975 anthem, "When Will I Be Loved?" Here's a taste: "I've been cheated... / been mistreated. / When will I be loved? / I've been put down. / I've been pushed 'round. / When will I be loved?"
Such is the lot in life of Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore), a loving mother and amiable ex-wife who slides through life as if she were a secondary character in the stories of those around her. But Gloria washes away her nearly invisible existence when she kicks middle age to the curb and unleashes her inner passions on the dance floor of a local club (where 70s and 80s pop hits set the mood). Gloria Bell is much more than an ode to middle age. The film's rich screenplay stands on its own as a fun-loving, empowering salute to women of all ages and backgrounds, to the joys of seeking your best life and to the alchemy that can make a pulsing dance floor a transformative place.
Gloria Bell is also a playful cinematic undertaking that asks the question: "Can a filmmaker do a 'cover version' of his own beloved film?'" Indeed, Gloria Bell is a brand-new riff on director Sebastian Lelio's Oscar-nominated 2013 Chilean movie Gloria. That film ignited Lelio's career, leading, in turn, to A Fantastic Woman (2017) and Disobedience (2018), as he began building a gallery of complicated women's portraits. Simply put, Lelio had no real reason to look back. Well, maybe there was one good reason: Julianne Moore.
"I'm often asked, 'Why reimagine your own film?' I could talk for hours as to why, but there's one very simple answer: my admiration for Julianne Moore," said Lelio following Gloria Bell's world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. "Julianne told me, 'I would only do this if you direct it,' and I immediately replied, 'And I would only direct it if you are in it.'"
Gloria Bell is not unlike the cover of a melody that Lelio originally created, played again in a new moment and context. I bristle at the term "remake," but in this "reimagining," Lelio and Moore honor the discoveries and DNA of the original 2013 film while at the same time searching for new tones and vibrations. Indeed, it's clear as a bell (pardon the pun) that Lelio and Moore created Gloria Bell for the sheer joy of making a great film, and for the excitement of the risk and artistic challenge of revisiting an already fully realized character.
Boise Weekly has been talking to a few members of Gloria Bell's supporting cast for a full year. In March 2018, co-star Jeanne Tripplehorn told BW, "Julianne is amazing in this and I can't wait for you to see it." And just a couple of months ago, Rita Wilson, another Gloria Bell co-star, bubbled that she was eager for the film's national release. That's about to happen this month as Gloria Bell opens on screens across North America, including at The Flicks in Boise beginning Friday, March 22.
"What I think people love so much about Gloria Bell is that she doesn't have to be rich or powerful to be the hero of her own life, and it feels good to celebrate that," Moore told BW following her film's September premiere. "She's just a person searching for pleasure like the rest of us. Gloria doesn't have any agenda except living as much as she can. She goes out dancing, not because she feels she has to meet someone, but because she loves to get lost in the moment, whether by herself or with someone else."
To pose the musical question from Ronstadt's 1975 anthem: "When will [Gloria] be loved?" Well, it's a pretty fair bet Gloria's true love connection will come from audiences, who we think will embrace this glorious reimagining.