The "Bell" in the title Gloria Bell might seem like an executive decision made to simply differentiate this remake from its original, director Sebastian Lelio's much marveled at and loved 2014 film Gloria. That Gloria already had a Gloria problem after all, since I remember at the time wondering if it was a re-do of John Cassavetes' 1980 Gena Rowlands film... a film that had already been remade, to little marvel, with Sharon Stone. So many Glorias!
But upon watching the film the "Bell" of Lelio's Gloria Bell strikes me as more than just a choice to calm down our IMDb searches. The "Bell" says from the top down this movie is about a different person -- a different, fantastic woman -- and that seems to be the ethos that Lelio and his star Julianne Moore took in re-crafting this movie from its Chilean origins and from original actress Paulina García's beloved interpretation of the character. Gloria Bell is not Gloria.
That is to say that Julianne Moore's Gloria Bell feels like a person I hadn't met yet, and the one hundred minutes I spent getting to know this person feel as revelatory and unique, as investigative and curious, as it did getting to know García's person. In place of a bastardized retelling then what we get is one hundred minutes watching Julianne Moore click her own emotional beats into place -- when a plot hinges so totally on character, like both of these films do, then the action scenes, the car chases and the sky-dives, the ground-quaking apocalypses, they manifest themselves in a head tilt; a semi-smile. What Julianne Moore does with Gloria and Gloria's arc, in the hands of an wisely open interpretation like this, becomes its entire own beast.
So in describing the story of Gloria Bell everything might sound similar -- a middle-aged woman who loves to dance meets a middle-aged man who keeps on being a disappointment until she finally realizes that hey, she's the title of her own song dammit -- but Lelio and Moore manage to build new music from played notes. They know that there are more instruments to play, different crescendos to approach, and if that every single body shakes and shimmies to its own kind of music, its own special song. Gloria Bell shimmies and it glows, gorgeously one of a kind.