Julianne Moore Shines;
In A Film Without Much Plot;
A Bit Pretentious.
I haven’t been this torn on what to grade something in quite a while. On one hand, this can feel pretentious and a bit boring at times (its under two hour runtime helps keep it from feeling too slow, however), but on the other hand, Julianne Moore is wonderful, elevating the films to heights it may not even sniff without her in the lead role.
Gloria, a middle aged divorcee who loves to dance and hopes to find a man who can sweep her off the dance floor as well as her feet, is in a rut. She has a routine and sticks to it, and it doesn’t always translate very well on film. It is repetitive because her life is repetitive, which I get, but I just couldn’t connect with it nearly as much as I had hoped to. Moore, however, takes the movie upon her shoulders and runs with it, and does such a great job that you forgive her series of bad decisions. You root for her to wise up, but aren’t mad at her when she doesn’t, because she is so good at rallying you to her cause. Gloria wants more (Moore?) out of life, and while she may not know how to go about getting it, she’s going to keep on dancing her way over life’s obstacles and her own shortcomings.
The script, by Alice Johnson Boher and director Sebastian Lelio, is perfectly fine, but doesn’t do much to stand out. I appreciated that there were often beats to allow characters to think and the audience to draw our own conclusions as opposed to filling all the available space with dialogue. And while I understand the idea of focusing exclusively on Gloria (the film is named after her, after all), John Turturro’s Arnold feels underdeveloped. Perhaps that was the point, as his intentions and reasons are shrouded from Gloria and hers is the filter we see the film through, but I wanted more from this character.
Lelio uses a soft color palette and a lot of medium and close shots (some of which are beautifully framed), nearly all of which feature Gloria. You are truly watching the journey of one woman trying to take back some control in her own life. It’s just not as interesting a journey as it thinks it is. Julianne Moore deserves a ton of credit and makes the final scene feel epic in its own way after the story that’s been told, but she was the diamond in a bit of rough.
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