One of the rare remakes that is equal to the original... Take a bow, Julianna Moore!
"Gloria Bell" (2018 release; 102 min.) brings the story of Gloria. As the movie opens, Gloria, a fifty-something divorced woman, is at a disco somewhere in LA, and we see her dancing away to Gloria Gaynor's "I Never Can Say Goodbye" and later Earth Wind & Fire's "September". We then get to know Gloria: she has two grown-up kids, and she has a boring job at an insurance company. When some time later she eventually returns to the disco, with this time's EW&F's "Boogie Wonderland" and "Let's Groove" playing, she gets to know Arnold, a divorced guy himself as well. The two hit it off... At this point we are less than 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest film from Chilean writer/director Sebastian Lelio, and here he remakes his own 2013 classic "Gloria" (set in Santiago, Chile) for US audiences, transposing the setting to Los Angeles. The story line is EXACTLY the same in the two versions, down to the last details. As was the case with the 2013 original, which featured a stunning performance by Paulina Garcia, the success of the remake was likely to hinge on whether the actress cast in the title role, would make this her own, letting us forget about the original role. Lelio decided to cast Julianna Moore, and what a fabulous movie that turns out to be. Moore is nothing short of sensational. I have seen many of her movies, and this surely ranks among the very, very best in her long career (easily better than her performance in "Still Alice", for which she won the Best Actress Oscar). Lelio also manages to keep the overall "spirit" of the original movie. When you get a towering performance like Moore delivers here, other performers around her inevitably fall a bit short. In particular John Turturro as Moore's love interest, pales in comparison. Check out Michael Cera as Moor's son. But overall, job well done. I am typically very skeptical about Hollywood remakes of foreign movies, I men just take the recent Liam Neesam-starring "Cold Pursuit" of the Norwegian black comedy "In Order of Disappearance", where the Hollywood remake is neither black nor a comedy, turning it instead into a "Death Wish"-like revenge movie. Thankfully "Gloria Bell" avoids that sad fate, and in fact is one of the rare remakes that is equal to the original. And you can take a bow for that, Ms. Moore.
"Gloria Bell" premiered to great acclaim at last Fall's Toronto International Film Festival, and opened this weekend onto 3 screens in Greater Cincinnati. The Friday evening screening where I saw this at was attended nicely, I'm guessing about 40 people or so. It was clear that the audience was enjoying this. Whether you've seen the original 2013 Chilean classic or not, I feel confident that you will enjoy the Hollywood remake. Of course I encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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