ROMANTIC DRAMA; 1hr 42min
STARRING: Julianne Moore, John Turturro
Night moves: Moore and Turturro
It’s an ageist consensus that the vast majority of older women (read: over 30) are sexually invisible—and not merely invisible, but serenely resigned to their unappealing fate. With her kids grown and her juiciest years behind her, what choice does a walking husk have but to wither into decrepitude?
Choice is never a conundrum for Gloria Bell (Moore), a fifty-plus, office-working, martini-sipping, music- and dance-loving divorced mother of two adult children (Michael Cera and Alanna Ubach). Her warm spark illuminates Chilean writer-director Sebastián Lelio’s re-tooling of his terrific 2013 Spanish-language original, Gloria, even when its climate grows uncomfortably hot.
Strong-minded Gloria isn’t afraid of flying solo, heading out to Los Angeles clubs to drink and dance with the same self-possession with which she drives to work, singing lustily along to her car radio. But then she meets fellow divorcé and former Marine Arnold (Turturro, glassily inscrutable), and their shared attraction is a sensual swan dive. Arnold wines and dines her, takes her dancing and paintballing and reads her poetry. The one thing he won’t do, however, being new to the divorce game and consequently reluctant to let go, is acknowledge Gloria to his two daughters. This niggles her at first, then sinks its pointy teeth.
Blending families is more art than science, after all. Not only is Arnold repeatedly taking the girls’ phone calls in front of Gloria, but a birthday dinner with her kids, her ex-husband (Brad Garrett) and his new wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn) becomes a button-pushing debacle, and neither Arnold nor Gloria is equipped to deal with the fallout.
And that, in a nutshell, is where the beauty of Lelio’s perceptions lies: in the intervals between big, decisive acts. As an actress who invests each of those intervals with meaning, Moore slips Gloria on like a well-loved pair of gloves, her face framed by tortoiseshell specs and her trademark fiery mane tamped down to a relatively demure rusty blonde. Needy, hopeful, floundering, yet unsinkable to the last, she charts a fighter’s course through this or any age.