Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Chile/USA, 2018. Fabula, FilmNation Entertainment. Screenplay by Alice Johnson Boher, Sebastian Lelio, based on the story by Gonzalo Maza, screenplay by Sebastián Lelio. Cinematography by Natasha Braier. Produced by Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain, Sebastián Lelio. Music by Matthew Herbert. Production Design by Shannon Walsh. Costume Design by Stacey Battat. Film Editing by Soledad Salfate. Toronto International Film Festival 2018.
Julianne Moore gives her best performance in years in Sebastian Lelio’s remake of his own 2013 film, taking over for Paulina Garcia as a middle-aged woman coping with life’s mysteries. Moore has been divorced for more than a decade, works as an insurance broker by day and spends her evenings at her favourite bar where she goes to dance and, sometimes, meet a man. When shy, kind John Turturro charms her with his humour and devoted attention, she begins a love affair with him that is marred only by his seeming to be stuck on his ex-wife and overly dependent adult daughters. Moore has her own family situation to deal with, her son (Michael Cera) is raising a baby alone while his wife searches for herself on a pilgrimage, and her daughter (Caren Pistorius) has begun a relationship that will drastically change her life. Lelio has altered very little of the tale’s narrative, right down to the paintball guns and choice of song in the conclusion, and yet revisiting all of it feels as warm and wonderful as it did the first time around, a story that doesn’t exploit a character mired in bad choices but rather celebrates her manner of processing the disappointments that life hands out on a daily basis. Moore is the perfect choice for the lead role, like her predecessor a classically beautiful woman with a streak of eccentricity that is never overplayed, a sharp madness in Garcia’s case that is replaced with Moore’s touch of self-effacing kookiness. Lelio pulls off the experiment that neither Gus van Sant or Michael Haneke could manage, finding new things in the same story without sacrificing what made the original so good. Barbara Sukowa provides the film’s only drawback, a marvelous actress who is very much underused as Moore’s co-worker, while Holland Taylor brightens the proceedings up as her supportive mother.