RIn John Cassavetes's 1980 original, Gena Rowlands eats nails as a former moll
trying to save a little Puerto Rican boy wanted by the mob. She shoots up a
carload of thugs and outsmarts an oily don, and only in the end does she
defrost her motherly urges.
By casting Sharon Stone in the role, Sidney Lumet's tedious remake sheds more
than just Rowlands's practical trenchcoat. Poured into plunging black Versace
and doing her best Fran Drescher, Stone softens Rowlands's portrait of
repressed maternity into a kinder, gentler Gloria. From the get-go, this broad
feels a uterine pull for the orphaned moppet (Jean-Luke Figueroa) and even --
oh gawd! -- cries.
Stone is plenty poignant, but without the intrigue of Gloria's maternal
metamorphosis, Lumet, the man behind such gritty '70s crime dramas as
Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon, peels off into the familiar
territory of car crashes and urban foot chases. Adding a surreal air of pallor
to the already dull action is George C. Scott in the unlikely role of Irish mob
kingpin. In the end, this Gloria goes down as another film in which
Stone's material doesn't fit nearly as well as her dress.
-- Alicia Potter