5 Life Lessons from Gloria Bell

Gloria Bell is a free-spirited 50-something woman, living in Los Angeles. She’s divorced, she has grown-up children, and she’s trying to live her life to the full. Played vibrantly by Julianne Moore, Gloria is exploring the so-called ‘second part’ of her time on earth. She dances, twists herself into the warrior pose, and is a brilliant shot with paintball. There might even be another shot at romance.

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If that doesn’t sound like many film heroines you’ve heard of, that’s because American cinema has been monumentally remiss in creating women like Gloria Bell. And indeed, Gloria was originally the Spanish-language vision of Chilean director Sebastián Lelio, who’s now made the film in English.

Journalist Emma Jones is here to give us five life lessons Gloria Bell teaches us.


1. 50-something is not a sex or social graveyard

Gloria Bell goes out, has fun, dances at clubs, meets new people, makes new friends, tries new ‘hobbies’ (if you count paintballing as a hobby) and has sex with her boyfriend. It’s a shock finding out that the over 50s in English-speaking films seem to like and enjoy sex, I know, but that’s because Hollywood has been historically terrible at portraying it as normal. And guess what, their bodies don’t have scales or boils on them either (although John Turturro has something going on under his shirt. But that will be a special moment just for you, the viewer.) Gloria Bell reminds us that life goes on during her 50s pretty much as it did in her 20s, 30s, and 40s.  There are no beige cardigans and sensible slip-ons.

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2. Hollywood has made many women fear ageing 

Here we are, talking about an actual on-screen life for an ‘older’ American woman. It’s still rare, though French cinema has been doing it for years, but then the French have Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve. It wasn’t until the Nicole Kidmans, Salma Hayeks and Julianne Moores hit their sixth decade that Hollywood finally accepted there’s still box office in their names. It helps that these women are now also producers able to fund their own projects (Julianne Moore produced Gloria Bell), as does the diversity movement within the film industry, but until recently a female film star could be an ingenue, a partner, a mother and then… an old lady/sci-fi hag. No wonder the message has filtered down to ‘ordinary’ women that ageing is something to be feared. Thank goodness Gloria Bell exists to say otherwise.

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3. No trip to Vegas ends well

Gloria - why, with the whole gamut of romantic weekend breaks to choose from, would you ever go to Vegas? You are guaranteed to end up in a casino the following morning, drunkenly trying to piece together where you left both your sanity and your dignity. That’s if you haven’t accidentally got married. Not to the person you arrived with. Spoiler alert – you’re never too old to call your mum to come and rescue you from Vegas. 

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4. You can be alone and not lonely

One of the things I like most about Gloria is that she goes into bars and starts conversations with strangers. (Well, it’s almost certainly better than Tinder) She’s not afraid to dance alone, even at weddings. She values her children but she’s not clingy.  And if the guy in her life is being extremely disappointing, she’s only going to give him one chance to improve his outlook. This isn’t a film about a search for true love after divorce and when the kids have grown up.  We’re looking at a snapshot of a full life from director Sebastián Lelio – one with value.

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5. Everyone needs their own theme tune

Gloria Bell already has one – Laura Brannigan’s brilliant ‘80s floorfiller ‘Gloria’. You know for sure that tune is going to turn up somewhere at a defining moment in Gloria’s life, in fact you’re waiting for the first bars. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have one with your name in the title – you just need a theme tune that you can call your own, to deploy in your “I will survive” moment. In those three minutes of dancing or singing or just listening, it’s possible not to reset and re-emerge, thinking “better times ahead.”  That could be Gloria Bell’s motto. 

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Emma Jones is a reporter on BBC Talking Movies on BBC News Channel/BBC World TV. She runs her own site for women in entertainment, www.electramedia.co


Gloria Bell Opening Night Parties on 7 June

Join us on 7 June for a night of dancing and cocktails to celebrate Gloria Bell, the woman who has a disco ball where her heart should be.

Soho, Knutsford and Oxford will be hosting disco parties with live DJs providing the tunes, and all members who purchase a ticket for Gloria Bell on 7 June will receive a FREE GLORIA BELLINI COCKTAIL for you and a guest*

Gloria Bell plays in our cinemas from Friday 7 June, with a week of preview screenings around the country starting 31 May

*Gloria Bellini offer available at Canterbury, Colchester, Knutsford, Oxford, Ripon, Sheffield and Soho. One gloria bellini per member ticket purchased (including free tickets), with a maximum of two bellinis per member. Offer only available on 7 June at participating cinemas. 18s and over.