TIFF review: Gloria Bell

The glorious Julianne Moore is the best reason to see this American adaptation of Sebastián Lelio's Chilean film

GLORIA BELL SPEC D: Sebastián Lelio, U.S./Chile. 102 min. Sep 15, 6:45, TBLB 1. See listing. Rating: NNN

Academy Award winner Lelio (A Fantastic Woman) has Americanized his 2013 Chilean film Gloria with more or less good results. Less because in this version the sex scenes between the 60-year-olds are less startling – dim light will do that. Less, too, because in a pivotal scene, Gloria’s house cleaner is replaced by Gloria’s mother – a choice made to appeal to an American audience.

The story of a grandmother looking for a sense of purpose – and for love – was made more poignant in the original by its star Paulina Garcia (best actress at the Berlin Film Festival), an exuberant, but not conventionally attractive woman.

Here the star is the glorious Julianne Moore, whom Lelio seems to believe can be made less beautiful by giving her a pair of glasses. She brings to life Gloria’s alienation, her desperation to be needed by her children (Michael Cera and Alanna Ubach) and her anguish over a budding relationship with the spineless Arthur (John Turturro, unctuous and pathetic at the same time) with supreme skill.

You can’t take her eyes off her, and not just because she’s in every scene. Look for a lovely cameo by the great Barbara Sukowa.

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