Toronto Film Review: Julianne Moore in ‘Gloria Bell’

Sebastián Lelio’s “Gloria Bell” is the second film this year to end with the Laura Branigan song “Gloria” — the kind of high-energy empowerment anthem that re-casts its leading lady in a different light — the other being Netflix’s recent Gloria Allred docu “Seeing Allred.” Speaking of re-casting leading ladies… It also happens to be the second of Lelio’s films to close with that song, although there’s a perfectly good explanation for that: “Gloria Bell” is a nearly scene-for-scene remake of the “A Fantastic Woman” director’s 2013 single-woman drama, this time in English and featuring Julianne Moore in the role that earned Paulina García the Berlin Film Festival’s best actress prize.

Many were skeptical when the project was announced, much las they were to the news that Jack Nicholson might star in an American version of “Toni Erdmann,” and yet Moore insisted in this case that if she were to play the role, Lelio must agree to direct. And so we get a film that shares the original’s generous view of the title character — of all its characters, really — along with a great many of its creative choices. But even with the same director and nearly the same script, “Gloria” and “Gloria Bell” are hardly the same movie, in the way that no two stagings of “Hamlet” can be the same when cast with different leading men. And it’s easy to imagine audiences who showed no interest in a Spanish-language version of this story responding to what Moore does with the role when A24 releases it next spring.