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Review: Julianne Moore wonderful in quiet 'Gloria Bell'

Julianne Moore is magnificent in this low-key character study from director Sebastián Lelio

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Julianne Moore in "Gloria Bell."

Julianne Moore is radiant in "Gloria Bell," playing a divorcee who is looking for love, living her life and making mistakes along the way.

What a treat it is to see a big screen story about a mature adult who is not in possession of any superpowers, who isn't fighting any supervillains, who isn't trying to save any world other than her own. "Gloria Bell" is a rich character study with no pyrotechnics or fireworks, other than those coming from Moore's quietly graceful performance, her best work in years.   

Moore plays the title character, an insurance agent living in a tiny Los Angeles apartment, whose sunny disposition leads to frequent singalongs in her car. 

She's a regular at a local singles bar where she loves hitting the dance floor and letting her hair down. She meets Arnold (John Turturro), a fellow divorcee with whom she shares an instant connection. She allows him into her life — they share a dinner with her children (Michael Cera and Cassi Thomson) and her ex-husband (Brad Garrett) — but Arnold's barriers form an emotional wall she can't break down. 

And that's about it in terms of story, but director and co-writer Sebastián Lelio, re-imagining his own 2013 film "Gloria," spends his time examining his lead character, telling the story of who she is, how she got there and where she's headed. 

Moore digs in and finds the intricacies in her character. She's not showy, but she turns in an honest, understated performance that all comes together in a joyous, melancholy, liberating dance set to Laura Branigan's "Gloria." It's a better special effect than anything in "Captain Marvel."

'Gloria Bell'


Rated R: for sexuality, nudity, language and some drug use

Running time: 102 minutes