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'Gloria Bell' Addresses The Challenges Of Middle Age In A Realistic, 'Superb' Way

Julianne Moore in stars in "Gloria Bell." (2018)

Rarely are there Hollywood-made films that focus on the so-called “mature” character — especially centering a plot on a female one. But the new film Gloria Bell not only does that, but succeeds in showing the challenges many people will face in their older adult lives, such as the complications of dating, identity and family.

"The outskirts of Hollywood, I think, have been producing some very good work in this area more and more, where we're seeing a wider variety of people and their particular experiences in life — now including women as they grow older," notes film contributor Dave Luhrssen.

Gloria Bell stars Julianne Moore as the lead and is an English-language version of a 2013 Chilean drama called Gloria, by writer-director Sebastián Lelio. The film follows a divorced mother of two adult children, who has a mundane job in insurance and is her happiest escaping on the dance floor to the hits of the '70s and '80s. It’s at the dance club where she looks for a connection, and then finds one that unspools in the rest of the film.

"I think it's an excellent film for addressing, in a realistic way, many of the issues that people face in middle age. Julianne Moore gives a superb performance as a woman at this kind of vague crossroads point in life," says Luhrssen. "I was taken aback almost in a pleasant kind of way by the pin-point accuracy of so much of it, the dialogue, including the banalities that people tend to engage in."

Gloria Bell is Sebastián Lelio's most recent major film released in the United States, following the very strong works of A Fantastic Woman (which won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2017) and Disobedience — both films respectfully and effectively showing the female and transgender perspectives.

Read: Simple, Bleak, Poignant?: 'Disobedience' Is All of These Things

Even though most Hollywood remakes of foreign films fall short, this reimagining of Gloria Bell is just the solution for your post-Oscar film fatigue, according to Luhrssen.

"It's absolutely not escapism," he notes, "it's almost a unique look at reality from the eyes of somebody coming from the outside, a foreign director who maybe sees this stuff more clearly than the average American filmmaker might."

"I think [Lelio is] a filmmaker who's worth looking into and exploring the back catalog and seeing exactly where he came from. And I'm very interested to know what's next for him," Luhrssen adds.

Audrey Nowakowski is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
David Luhrssen is arts and entertainment editor of the Shepherd Express, co-founder of the Milwaukee International Film Festival and co-author of A Time of Paradox: America Since 1890. He is the winner of the Pace Setter Award for contributions to Milwaukee's film community from the Milwaukee Independent Film Society. David Luhrssen has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and Milwaukee Area Technical College.