Fans of Sebastián Lelio’s 2013 Chilean film Gloria may be perturbed to find the director retreading old grounds. Gloria Bell at times feels like a shot-for-shot remake with an English cast headed by Julianne Moore.
However, in Lelio’s hands, the film also feels as fresh as ever. The story is reinvigorated by its new settings in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Moore’s remarkable craft creates a new version of Gloria to fall in love with while taking nothing away from Paulina García’s take.
In some ways, it’s perfectly fitting that this should be remade. The Umberto Tozzi song that helped give the character her name is given an English version by Laura Branigan, which illustrates that the same tune can have power in different contexts.
The storyline of a divorced woman losing herself on a dance floor, taking up a relationship with a highly flawed man (John Tuturro) who is still constrained by his own previous marriage, hits all the same beats as the original. Nevertheless, the new ensemble makes the tale their own, with a fantastic take from Moore that’s anything but an imitation of what came before. Along with Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Caren Pistorius, Jeane Tripplehorn, and a startling cameo by Sean Astin, Moore makes the film her own, providing the right degree of ferocity and vulnerability that the character demands.
More than a cheap marketing trick, Lelio has managed to reinvigorate his film not only for neophytes but equally for fans of the original. The story of a powerful, flawed woman proves just as engaging in this version. Thanks to a stellar cast and its four-on-the-floor soundtrack, there’s a lot to love about Gloria Bell.