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'Gloria Bell': For Whom the Loneliness Tolls

By Michael S. GoldbergeriBerkshires Film Critic
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My mother was beautiful. Not just pretty, but beautiful. At family gatherings, it was inevitably brought up: Who is more beautiful, Dora or Elizabeth Taylor? It was Mom's cue to blush, although she kept serving and rarely sat down. 
 
Intentionally or not, her splendor impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. Whether taken to the shoe store or a visit to the doctor, it was a given: A beautiful woman had just walked into the room. People like beautiful. It fascinates them, whether wondering what it must be like to be beautiful or intellectually deliberating just what it
is that makes one beautiful.
 
Here's why I raise the subject. Inarguably beautiful Julianne Moore stars in Sebastián Lelio's "Gloria Bell," about a middle-class, middle-aged divorcee who earns a living in a nondescript office job by day and hits the L.A. dance clubs by night in search of Prince Charming. While the makeup doesn't accentuate Moore's comely visage, neither does it purposely attempt to deter from it. The latter would surely be an awkward mistake. But that the fact of her exquisiteness is simply avoided, especially in light of a screenplay that is otherwise so commendably realistic, is perplexing.
 
My thesis here isn't so Philistine to recommend that Gloria is liable to fare better in her eventual relationship with dance-floor find, Arnold, also divorced, because of her pulchritude. It might just be my excuse for seeing how many synonyms I can find for beauty. But the thing is, Moore's appearance can't help but play in contrast to the regular gal she's been assigned to portray. 
 
However, as we take it for granted that most movie actors, save for character types, are far more attractive than a random sampling of folks walking down any street USA, most viewers won't share my piddling reservations. Plus, that Julianne Moore is also as much a thespic talent as she is a Venus doubtless helps ameliorate the miscasting.
 
But whether because of her humanity or also for her loveliness, we like Gloria, and hope that John Turturro's suitor turns out to be at least a reasonable facsimile of the gallant knight on the white horse come to rescue our gal from dying with her song still inside her. But again, leave it to me to also have a trifling problem with Turturro's character.
 
While it's completely understandable that we soon become impatient with Arnold's sometimes quirky behavior, there just may be an unexplained answer that director Lelio should have at least broached. There's something amiss, something happened here. A former Marine who runs an apparently lucrative paintball park, he is inordinately in the thrall of his ex-wife and two obnoxiously demanding daughters. And it just isn't enough for me to simply recognize Arnold's inability to compartmentalize his role as super breadwinner and emotional support extraordinaire. He is a main character and not a convenient widget or a mere sounding board to help delineate Gloria. I want to know just a little more.
 
All the same, attesting not only to Moore and Turturro's superb performances, but also to my status as a hopeless romantic, I nonetheless rooted enthusiastically for this pair of lovelorn souls. In a classic case of invoking that the end justifies the means, especially in the cause of something as sacred as amour itself, and lending dispensation over my detractions, I defer to Joe E. Brown's wacky rejoinder in "Some Like it Hot" (1959) when Jack Lemmon's Jerry tells him he's a man: "Well, nobody's perfect."
 
So, while "Gloria Bell" isn't the definitive statement on a woman of certain years left in the lurch through the sometimes unkind vagaries of marriage, among the parade of middle-aged actresses who've taken their turn at this entranceway to roles for older ladies, it is one of the most genuine. Ms. Moore, especially when her character is expressing the seemingly endless hours of loneliness that can overtake every other aspect of singlehood, proves a master of evocative nuance. Although we all know, especially through the canons of the modern woman's movement, that no one should be defined by whether or not they have a life partner, here we witness that there are challenges nonetheless to overcoming old modes and conventions.
 
I mean, there's a reason why we've generally attempted to pair off over these vast millennia, whether to swing from chandeliers together, to have someone there in the middle of the night to call the EMTs, or for any number of those infinite proclivities that seem unfathomable to others.
 
Before the current awakening to self-determination, folks who didn't participate in the mating game were often considered either selfish or undesirable — termed old maids, confirmed bachelors and, only in the rarest of positive estimations, exonerated as free spirits. But of course there has always been much more to it, and in Moore's "Gloria Bell" the savvy glimpse beyond the stereotype rings true.
 
"Gloria Bell," rated R, is an A24 release directed by Sebastián Lelio, and stars Julianne Moore, John Turturro and Michael Cera. Running time: 102 minutes
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North Adams Happenings: July 24-30

North Adams Happenings July 24 - 30, 2019

SAVE THE DATE
AUGUST 6th - National Night Out
4:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.Neighborhoods throughout North Berkshire once again join the North Adams Police, Fire, and Emergency Departments to host a variety of special events such as cookouts, games, contests, music and more!
More information.

AUGUST 14th - 23rd Annual Downtown Celebration
JOIN US! The  23rd Annual Downtown Celebration will take over downtown North Adams on Wednesday, August 14 from 5:30 – 9 PM.  
RAIN DATE: Thursday, August 15th
BUSINESSES AND VENDORS: Application still available.
More information.
Wednesday 7/24
10:00 A.M. (FREE, $5 to park), NATURE WALK, Nice 'N' Easy Walk Natural Bridge State Park, McCauley Road More information.  

10:00 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Terrific Tots Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.  

10:30 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Preschool Story Time North Adams Public Library, 74 Church Street, (413) 662-3133 More information.   


6:30 P.M. ($3-5), SPORTS, SteepleCats V. Keene Joe Wolfe Field, 310 State Street  More information.

6:30 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Concerts at the Lake Presents The Matchstick Architects and Bang on a Can Windsor Lake, 200 Windsor Lake Road, (413) 664-6180 More information.

8:00 P.M. (FREE), GAMES, Trivia Night! Ramunto's, 67 Main Street, (413) 398-5152 More information.

Thursday 7/25
5:00 P.M. (FREE), ART, 2019 DownStreet Art Main Street More information.

5:30 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, The Chalet: Apocalypstick Redd The Chalet at Courtyard D, MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way  More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), CONCERT, Party in the Park Presents The Hotshot Hillbillies Noel Field, 310 State Street   More information.
Friday 7/26
7:30 A.M. (FREE), MEET UP, NAMAzing Eagle Street Parklet Coffee Date NAMAzing Eagle Street Parklet, Eagle Street, thenamazinginitiative@gmail.com More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Drop-In Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.

11:00 A.M. (FREE, PARKING $5), KIDS, Kidleidoscope New England's Natural Bridge, 1 McCauley Road More information.

6:00 P.M. ($1 and up), GAMES, BINGO! North Adams Elks 487 Lodge, 100 Eagle Street, (413) 664-9039 More information.

6:30 P.M. ($3-5), SPORTS, SteepleCats V. Upper Joe Wolfe Field, 310 State Street  More information.

7:00 P.M. (BY DONATION), CRAFTING, Knitting Nights with Common Folk Common Folk, 73 Main Street More Information.

8:00 P.M. ($66-300), CONCERT, The Prentenders MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way More information.

8:30 P.M. (FREE), MOVIE, Movies Under the Stars at Colegrove Park Colegrove Park Elementary, 24 Church Street More information.

9:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Karaoke Friday! State Street Tavern, 167 State Street, (413) 664-9152 More information.
Saturday 7/27
9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. (FREE), MARKET,  North Adams Farmers Market St. Anthony's Parking Lot at Marshall Street and St. Anthony's Drive (413)664-6180 More information.

12:00 P.M. (FREE), CONCERT, Peace & Rhythm InStore Belltower records, Norad Mill, Suite 301, 60 Roberts Dr More information.

2:00 P.M. ($25), ART, Artist Talk with Chrissie Hynde MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way More information.

4:00 P.M. (FREE), ART, Open Studios at MASS MoCA Assets for Artists, 1320 Mass Moca Way More information.

6:30 P.M. ($3-5), SPORTS, SteepleCats V. New Bedford Joe Wolfe Field, 310 State Street  More information.

8:00 P.M. ($18-44), CONCERT, Adia Victoria MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way More information.
Sunday 7/28
12:00 P.M. (FREE), PICNIC, Annual Summer Picnic Horrigan Road, Clarksburg More information.

3:00 P.M. (FREE), CONCERT, Public Puberty/Carbus/Human Pontiac Belltower records, Norad Mill, Suite 301, 60 Roberts Dr More information.

4:00 P.M. (FREE), FOOD & MUSIC, Racks and Stacks (barbecue and vinyl music) A-oK Berkshire Barbecue, 2601 Mass MoCA Way More information.
 
Monday 7/29
1:00 P.M. (FREE), KIDS, Crafternoons! North Adams Public Library, 74 Church Street, (413) 662-3133 More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), KIDS, Discovery Mondays- Space Themed North Adams Public Library, 74 Church Street, (413) 662-3133 More information.
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