This movie did a few things I’ve never heard of before. First, it was Chilean writer/director Sebastian Lelio doing a remake — of his own movie! The original was around five years ago, and was still fresh in my memory. Second, Lelio decided to make a scene-for-scene remake. Why? I mean, I felt the same way when Weezer covered the Toto song “Africa.” What’s the point? And with Lelio coming off an Oscar win for “best foreign film” with A Fantastic Woman and his disappointing Disobedience…this was all just a strange decision to me.
We watch as Gloria (Julianne Moore, who also produced) copes with being an empty-nester, and tries dating as a middle-aged divorced woman.
My wife hated this movie and had lots of problems with it, most notably, that she felt Moore was too pretty and wouldn’t have such difficulties navigating these waters with her looks. Strangely enough, I remember my mom having the same complaint with her in Boogie Nights, saying “No porn star looks as pretty as Julianne Moore.”
Well, I had no problem with her looks. The problems I had were that we’re not given enough to sink our teeth into. We watch her pluck hairs off her face. We see her in her big office, working on an insurance claim. Multiple times, we see her singing along to the radio in her car (a scene that filmmakers really need to retire at this point).
She has two adult kids, and when we first see her with son Peter (a very distracting Michael Cera), it’s all so odd. The shame of it all is, I think it can be fun watching an older actress play a low-key role. The first half of My Name is Doris (Sally Field) was interesting. The Wife (Glenn Close, who was robbed of an Oscar) was outstanding. This movie just gives us a series of things we’ve seen done better in other movies — a goofy yoga instructor (her daughter Anne, played by Caren Pistorius), who also does laugh therapy. A co-worker (Barbara Sukowa) who is griping about her 401K and worried about her retirement plan.
There’s a disco Gloria likes to frequent, and there she meets Arnold (John Turturro), who gives her such creepy looks you wonder why she’s not running for the hills (instead of running into his bed). Their sex scene was a bit awkward, a bit sexy, and…that’s the type of scene this movie needed more of. No, no, not sex scenes. I mean, showing the awkwardness of older people getting their groove back. You see, Arnold is only a year out of a marriage (compared with her 12 years being divorced). Problems with this movie start to bother me when I’m wondering why Gloria is putting up with all of the weird stuff Arnold does (secretive phone calls, not calling her his girlfriend, etc.). The kicker is something that happens in Las Vegas that no person would ever do. It wasn’t the least bit believable. At least that lead to a somewhat interesting scene with a drunk guy (Sean Astin) that is fun (I especially like that he fell off a merry-go-round, yet we merely hear it).
There’s an interesting scene where Gloria, for some bizarre reason, takes Arnold to her son’s birthday party, where he meets her ex-husband (Brad Garrett). He gets drunk and seems to be regretting that it didn’t work out with Gloria, and the way that gets under Arnold’s skin, was intriguing. The shots were done well, and we think of similar situations we’ve been in before.
The film starts to get repetitive, and rather boring. It’s strange to even say that, because I didn’t think I could ever be bored watching Moore and Turturro on screen.
Gloria just wasn’t as self-aware as she should’ve been, and oftentimes, it was like she had the mentality of an 8th grader.
Sometimes she comes across like a needy, 65-year-old Jewish mom you’d see in a Neil Simon play.
And if memory serves, in the ending of the original Gloria, it was kind of cathartic for her to dance with reckless abandon to the Laura Branigan song “Gloria.” In this movie, she just looks pathetic, and you’re reminded of Elaine in Seinfeld doing her bad dancing.
2 stars out of 5.