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Mild mannered Jack Dawn has been secretly working as an accountant for the mob. He, his Puerto Rican wife Jeri, his teen-aged daughter Joan and his mother-in-law, all who were planning on going on the run, are murdered by the mob because Jack was going to inform on them to the FBI. Before they're killed, Jack and Jeri are able to send their six-year old son Phil to Jeri's friend and their neighbor, Gloria Swenson, for safe keeping. Also with Phil is the book which contains all the information Jack was going to turn over. Gloria and Phil have an antagonistic relationship, not so much for who they are but what they are, Phil a kid, and Gloria a strange white woman who hates kids. As an ex-mistress of a mobster, Gloria learns that the people that killed the Dawns are old friends of hers. As Gloria and Phil go on the run both from the mob and from the authorities (who believe she kidnapped Phil) throughout New York City, Gloria has to come up with a plan on how best to save themselves, ... Written by
I have not seen the remake of GLORIA yet, and needless to say, I'm not looking forward to it. Not to say that Sharon Stone can't play a tough female, who's self-imposed as a bodyguard for a kid running from mobsters. It is just that Gena Rowlands is so much more versatile, and her range so much wider, and I just KNOW that Stone won't be able to cut it. So, I will stop speculating, and get to the facts.
GLORIA is a film that Cassavete's made as an antidote to brainless, violent action films. All of the violence has dramatic purpose, and nothing is pointless here. This may be off-putting to fans of the action genre, but Cassavetes' contempt for the genre is what makes GLORIA more interesting. There are several unexpected twists.
When the film begins, Gloria is a street-smart woman who is kind of "married" to the mob. Gloria has a tomboyish quality that lends credibility to the fact that she has lived this long. She looks out for herself, first and foremost.
This changes when a weasel, and friend,of Gloria's (Buck Henry) is murdered by her mobster friends. Henry and his wife are killed, leaving behind a scared child. The little boy is a witness to the murder, and the mobsters make chase.
Gloria feels her maternal instincts begin to take over, and begrudgingly protects the boy. As the film progresses, however, she becomes more sincere in her protection, and she draws the line further for the mobsters. She has survived in the harsh city for this long, so it is easy to assume that she knows how to stay alive.
GLORIA is by no means Cassavete best film. There are long stretches that test your patience, that can sometimes seem static. But, as much as I dislike this quality, I am familiar with several Cassavetes' films, and understand what he is trying to achieve. Cassavetes is a very emotional director. He doesn't focus on tragedy; he is more interested in survival and the baggage that that brings. GLORIA is a thinking-person's thriller, and if you prefer big explosions and high body-counts, go and see DIE HARD 2 again. But, if you want to see something different, check this one out.
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