Since her breakthrough performance in 1992's _Basic_Instinct_, Sharon
Stone has been intent on proving that she is a "serious actress." Yet
while she earned her critical and industry vindication with her Golden
Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated turn in 1995's _Casino_, Stone
still feels she has something to prove.
Stone's latest bid for her already-won respectability (further cemented by
her generally well-received turn in 1996's _Last_Dance_ and her recent
Globe nod for last year's _The_Mighty_) is _Gloria_, director Sidney
Lumet's update of John Cassavetes's 1980 drama of the same name, which
earned star Gena Rowlands matching Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. I
have not seen the original film, but on her own merits (despite a
distracting accent, which also marred her otherwise strong _Last Dance_
work), Stone delivers an appropriately steely but warmly comedic turn as
the title character, a gangster's (Jeremy Northam) ex-girlfriend who takes
under her wing a young boy (newcomer Jean-Luke Figueroa) whose family was
killed by the gangster's crew.
It is highly doubtful, though, that Stone will duplicate Rowland's double
nomination, for the film overall is much less effective than she is.
Although the film had been sitting on Sony's shelf for a year, and the
studio opted not to screen it for critics, _Gloria_ is not the disaster
those facts would suggest; the film is simply more dull than anything else.
Lumet is no stranger to the streets of New York, having walked the
territory in films sush as _Dog_Day_Afternoon_ and _Serpico_, and the look
and atmosphere of _Gloria_ bears a gritty authenticity. But there's little
Lumet can do to juice up Steven Antin's suspenseless update of Cassavetes's
original script--not even an extended car chase. Not long after the setup,
where Gloria is released from a Florida prison; a mob thug murders the
family of the kid, Nicky; and the two meet, the film settles into a
predictable rhythm. Scenes of Gloria being simultaneously annoyed and
charmed by Nicky alternate with those of her ex, Kevin, ordering his men to
find and kill the pair and retrieve the precious floppy disk in the Nicky's
possession. The repetitive nature of the script could have been made
somewhat bearable if it built to an exciting climax and resolution, but
there is neither. The conflict with Kevin is resolved in a most
anticlimactic fashion, and the outcome of the Gloria/Nicky relationship is
pretty much what one can predict from the get-go.
So, yes, Miss Stone, you can act, as we can see yet again in _Gloria_. We
get it already. Now it's time to start entertaining your audience,
something you haven't done in much too long.