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Gloria Bell

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Gloria Bell Movie Poster Image
Nuanced, mature character study about a fascinating woman.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Though things that happen to Gloria are more or less regular life, with no particular pattern, movie asks us to sympathize with her, hope she can find happiness, romantic fulfillment. In this way, it addresses whether a worthy story can be told about someone who isn't young, male, or glamorous.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Women over 50 aren't often focus of movies, but other than that, Gloria isn't particularly extraordinary -- more like realistically flawed. She tries to help others where she can or when it comes up, but tends to think mainly about herself.

Violence

Offscreen shouting, threats (voices heard from upstairs apartment). Shooting with a paintball gun. Talk about guns and war. Tantrum. Arguing.

Sex

Lengthy shots of a topless woman. Somewhat graphic sex scenes, with thrusting and moaning. Kissing.

Language

Fairly strong language, with uses of "f--k," "bulls--t," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "grow a pair."

Consumerism

Apple iPhone shown fairly frequently. Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies shown. Tippmann brand paintball guns used.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent social drinking. Drinking to extreme drunkenness in one sequence; main character passes out in hotel courtyard. Sleeping pills. Pot smoking in several scenes. Some cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gloria Bell is director Sebastian Lelio's English-language remake of his own acclaimed 2013 Chilean movie GloriaJulianne Moore stars as a lonely woman who's trying to find romance and meaning in her life. It's a mature film: There are fairly graphic sex scenes (thrusting, moaning), and the main character is topless in several scenes (some of them quite long). Language is strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. The characters drink frequently in social situations, and the main character gets very drunk in one sequence, passing out in public. Characters also smoke both pot and cigarettes. A man is shot with a paintball gun, there's arguing/angry shouting, and characters have a brief discussion about guns and war. Ultimately, this is a nuanced, heartbreaking character study of an age group not represented often enough in movies, and it's highly recommended for older teens and adults.

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What's the story?

In GLORIA BELL, the titular character (Julianne Moore) is a divorced, middle-age woman who works in an insurance office and doesn't hear from her grown children as often as she'd like. At home, she deals with a screaming upstairs neighbor and a mysterious hairless cat that keeps invading her apartment. So she fills her empty hours drinking and dancing to disco tunes at a nightclub. One night, Gloria meets Arnold (John Turturro), and they easily slip into a sexual relationship. Arnold runs a kind of theme park with paintball guns and is newly divorced, at the beck and call of his grown daughters and ex-wife. When Gloria takes him to meet her family at her son's (Michael Cera) birthday party, Arnold suddenly leaves, later claiming that she wasn't paying enough attention to him. He tries to make it up to her by taking her to a fancy hotel in Vegas, but once again disappears when his phone rings. With nothing left to lose, Gloria heads out into the night -- and into the arms of a stranger.

Is it any good?

Chilean director Sebastian Lelio's English-language remake of his own 2013 Gloria works surprisingly well. It's less a sellout than it is an alternate deep-dive into a heartbreaking character. With Moore ably taking the baton from acclaimed Chilean actor Paulina Garcia, Gloria Bell matches the original almost beat for beat. Offering a nuanced, perceptive look into the life of a character a little past middle age, the movie wonders whether an ordinary woman who's already married and raised children still has a right to, or a shot at, happiness. (The question itself is poignant.) The pitfalls Gloria faces are all viewed through the rich lens of late-life experience.

Gloria is as bitterly familiar with a divorced man's baggage as she is unfamiliar with, say, holding a paintball gun or handling a creepy, hairless cat. She frequently wears a pasted-on smile, perhaps believing that if she appears to be positive, she'll be more appealing to others. But her ache still comes through; she's simultaneously shielded and open-hearted. The movie lacks a certain Chilean climate that belonged to the original, but Lelio -- following up his remarkable English-language debut Disobedience -- manages to find a certain American-ness in his story, especially when it comes to a youth-obsessed culture's disregard for the over-50 set. Regardless of language, Gloria Bell is a sophisticated, touching character study.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Gloria Bell treats sex. Is it "sexy," or is it more realistic? What's the difference?

  • How are drinking and smoking portrayed? Are they glamorized? What are the consequences

  • Why do you think there aren't more movies about characters like Gloria -- i.e., women over 50?

  • If you've seen the original, how does this remake compare? Why do you think foreign movies are sometimes remade in English?

Movie details

For kids who love strong female characters

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