Gloria - * *

Gloria

Gloria is a remake of the 1980 John Cassavettes drama about a streetwise woman who ends up protecting a child from the mob. A good lead performance keeps this otherwise sluggish film from becoming a disaster, but it’s a mild redemption at most.

Gloria (Sharon Stone) has spent the last three years in a Miami jail, covering for her sleazy gangster boyfriend, Kevin (Jeremy Northam). Upon being paroled, what is the first thing she does? Breaks parole by hopping a jet back to New York. She seeks out Kevin, hoping to find a changed (and grateful) man.

Kevin, of course, could care less about his trashy girlfriend. He’s a mid-level gangster in the Irish mob, and he has other things on his mind. Most notably, an accountant in his employ has made a copy of all the bribes and payoffs. Kevin’s lackey Sean (Mike Starr) goes overboard, and kills the accountant, and his entire family…all except the young Nicky (Jean-Luke Figueroa), who, as luck would have it, has the disk with the incriminating data.

Wouldn’t you know that Gloria and Nicky would get together. The tough-talking Gloria’s long-dormant maternal instincts kick into high gear as she does her best to protect the little kid from the wrath of the mob. But is this a challenge that even Gloria can’t face?

This movie belongs to Sharon Stone. Her plucky, streetwise Gloria is the best thing about the film. She tackles the role with plenty of brass and personality. Though her character begins to get a bit grating as the film winds to a close, she’s still head and shoulders above the rest of the cast.

However, though Sharon does her part, the rest of the movie doesn’t keep pace. The bad guys are as generic as the “find the floppy disk” plot. The film’s few action scenes are sluggish and dull. Even the developing mother-son bond between the spunky kid and the spunkier Gloria is rather trite and contrived.

A few good actors in some small roles here and there don’t make a lasting impression. George C. Scott stumbles as mob boss Ruby. Bonnie Bedelia is downright irritating as Gloria’s better-off sister, Brenda. Only Cathy Moriarty is able to add some zest to the proceedings, as the woman Gloria might have become.

Gloria is not quite good enough to recommend purely on the basis of Sharon Stone’s performance. But that performance is good enough to avoid an all-out pan.

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