Moore takes the lead in Sebastián Lelio’s US remake of his earlier film, playing a woman uninhibitedly enjoying life and romancing John Turturro
When Sebastián Lelio released his 2013 hit Gloria, it became Chile’s entrant for the best foreign film Oscar, and Variety magazine suggested that, were it a US film, “the situation of a middle-aged woman refusing to give in to loneliness would likely be fashioned into a comedy starring Meryl Streep or Maggie Smith.” Well, now it has become a US film, under the auspices of its executive producer-star Julianne Moore; written and directed again by Lelio – a virtual shot-for-shot remake of his first film, right down to the Almodóvar-ish flourish of its final confrontation. However, now we have classic American disco numbers for the nightclub scenes, rather than Spanish-language hits. Gloria is a wonderful part for Moore, and it is fascinating to put this picture alongside Moore’s contrasting triumph Still Alice, the study of a middle-aged woman succumbing to early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Gloria is a free-spirited, sexy divorcee and the only thing she wants to succumb to is pleasure. She goes to singles nights and dances happily and uninhibitedly. She has an apartment (albeit with a noisy upstairs neighbour), a job she is perfectly good at, and she is on reasonable, if distant terms with her ex-husband Dustin (Brad Garrett) and his new partner Fiona (Jeanne Tripplehorn), her grownup kids Anne (Caren Pistorius) and Peter (Michael Cera), and also her elderly mother Hillary (Holland Taylor). The point is that Gloria isn’t gloomy or pining; she has, in the words of the song, all her life to live and all her love to give. And then she meets and falls for a silver fox called Arnold, who has become a rather fine figure of a man after recent weight-reduction surgery, and is seductively played by John Turturro. He appears to be a catch and is a vigorous lover (despite the fact that in undressing him, Gloria has to remove his back-support girdle with a noisy ripping of Velcro). Then Arnold reveals that, in contrast to Gloria’s sensibly independent detachment from her family, he is utterly under the thumb of his needy grownup daughters.