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[whitespace] Gloria
Brian Hamill

Shopping Moll: Sharon Stone buys herself some trouble when she shelters a young boy from a mobster's attentions in 'Gloria.'

Sharon Stone isn't up to remade 'Gloria'

By Richard von Busack

SIDNEY LUMET'S new film, Gloria, is a remake (only slightly credited) of John Cassavetes' one real crowd-pleaser, the 1980 gangster film of the same name (it netted star Gena Rowlands an Oscar nomination). Seen again, Rowlands' portrait of middle-aged fury is more memorable than the film as a whole. Gloria is a great character, but the original Gloria is not a great movie. Bill Conti's soundtrack hammers away like seven different overwrought movie soundtracks laminated atop one another, and the dialogue, improved or otherwise, revisits movie clichés ("OK, wise guy!" "We're going to take the kid for a ride").

Remade safely and blandly, the Sharon Stone version has a new script by Steve Antin. The sordidness of Cassavetes' Malaise Era Manhattan is replaced by textureless '90s prosperity. (New York is certainly a less interesting place on film today than it was 20 years ago.) The aging moll Gloria (Stone) gets out of a Florida jail after three years of taking a rap for her criminal boyfriend, Kevin (Jeremy Northam). She arrives in New York immediately after Kevin has just engineered the massacre of his cheating bookkeeper and family. The lone survivor is the bookkeeper's son, a cocksure young boy named Nicky (Jean-Luke Figueroa), whom Gloria decides to take on the run to save him from murder.

Veteran director Lumet tidies up everything Cassavetes left sloppy. The plot points are stronger, the bonding between Gloria and Nicky is made sweeter and a new ending has been cooked up involving an orphanage. Missing here is the gasp of surprise Rowlands provoked when she suddenly filled her hand with a revolver, since Stone's Gloria has a chip on her shoulder already. This character of a feisty blonde "broawd" with a stagy Bronx accent is a leap for Stone, and she falls flat. By most accounts, Stone is too smart to spend her life playing fatales. She has a range, but it's not that big a range--she doesn't suggest great volumes of rage, and she's too young for this part. Worse for Stone, Cathy Moriarty, a natural for the lead, turns up in one scene to show Stone how a dame faces age. Speaking of age, George C. Scott's performance as Ruby, the crime boss, has a weariness that can't be excused as the weight of years; he must have read the tired script all the way through.

Gloria (R; 108 min.), directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Steven Antin, photographed by David Watkin and starring Sharon Stone and Jean-Luke Figueroa.

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From the January 28-February 3, 1999 issue of Metro.

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