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Friday, February 5, 1999

Missing the maternal bond

Movie: Gloria

Posted on Fri, Feb 5, 1999 at 4:00 AM

Our Rating: 2.00

One of these days, the film-studio powers-that-be will realize that the true formula for mounting a successful remake is to take a flop that had promise and improve upon it. Until then, we're stuck with unnecessary rehashings like the new Sharon Stone vehicle, "Gloria."

Adapted by screenwriter Steve Antin from John Cassavetes' 1980 screenplay, "Gloria" basically tells the same "tough broad rescues cloying kid and protects him from the mob" story that Cassavetes originally penned and directed. What's missing in the update is the chemistry/bond between the woman and the kid, as well as believable situations, and, most importantly, Gent Rowland, the original Gloria who was nominated for a best-actress Oscar for her role.

After her release from a prison sentence that she endured by thinking about the big bucks that were waiting for her when she got out, Gloria (Sharon Stone) returns to the New York apartment of her mobster boyfriend (Jeremy Northam) to collect her cash. Instead of the money that Kevin assures her is nonexistent, she finds Nick (Jean-Luke Figueroa), a 7-year-old boy whose entire family has just been wiped out by Kevin's goons. Soon Gloria, Nick and an important computer disk are on the lam while pursuing thugs do anything to get the disk back.

Director Sidney Lumen, whose classic works "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Prince of the City" harshly and realistically portrayed the human side of the criminal underbelly of New York, appears to have no clue how to make "Gloria" come to life. He ably tackles the gunfights and car chases, but the relationship between Gloria and Nick, which is the true heart of the film, alludes his direction.

Stone also deserves responsibility for the sparkless interaction with her co-star. Dressed like a high-class hooker, she clomps through the role like a woman wearing high heels for the first time and spouts one of the worst "New Yawk" accents heard on film. Her young co-star, Figueroa, is equally out of place.

Watching "Gloria" leaves as many questions unanswered as answered. Why doesn't Gloria make a copy or at least view the contents of the obviously valuable computer disk? Why doesn't Gloria take the child to the authorities instead of hiding out in luxury hotels? And most importantly, how does Gloria think that she will be able to keep the kid without anyone knowing his past?

Electing not to screen the film for critics (remember "The Avengers"?), Columbia Pictures must have been aware that "Gloria" was a dog. If only they could learn to leave the good films intact and save the remakes for the stinkers?


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