Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gena Rowlands, in Gloriaapproximately 78 minutes and 32 seconds
67.4% of the film

The film

A gangster's girlfriend goes on the run with a young boy who is being hunted by the mob for information he may or may not have.

You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.
By far one of the messiest films I’ve seen in a very long time. The idea is good: but that’s all there is to it. For 40-50 minutes the film just goes in circles. Gena Rowlands can’t save it because she has nothing to work with. The dialogue is horrible and I think I was watching the worst child performance EVER. A mess.

Gena Rowlands as Gloria Swenson

I haven’t seen A Woman under the Influence (yes, I know I need to), but I have seen Opening Night and Gena Rowlands is spectacular in that Oscar-snubbed performance. And I don’t know… just by looking at her you can tell how cool & fabulous she is. She inspires a smart diva actress feeling! I’m sure that in a studio era she would’ve given Bette Davis a run for her money.

But this movie called Gloria is pure non-sense. She is incredibly above the material, but even so: there’s too much of a mess going on. Gena plays Gloria, a mobster’s ex-mistress, who due to some special circumstances ends up taking care of an annoying kid with a target on his head while her former gangster friends are hunting both of them. We don’t know much about Gloria, except that she did some time and that she’s an insider. There is nothing too deep about the character and for the most of it she just runs in circles from one NY location to another…

I need to underline yet again how stupid the screenplay is: it’s hardly believable and there is no character justification. People stupidly waiting to die, characters changing their minds every 5 minutes, a kid with lines a kid would never say, a mob guy on every bus & street corner in New York & an ocean of brainless screenplay solutions… And Gena is the middle of it all. Her screen partner is frustratingly incapable (that Razzie win for the kid is the most justified ever) and all that’s left for her to do it to take little and exploit it so much by trying to give a mood to the scene.

There are a couple of moments when she’s terrific; of course she is, because she’s frikkin Gena Rowlands. Caught up on the streets by the mob (all of them in a car), she is requested by old friends to hand over the kid. It’s a tough call for her: keeping him near is a death threat for her, but she knows that if she gives him up he’ll be dead. Gena helps us understand that, so her You wouldn’t shoot a kid, would you? (quoting from memory) is humble, begging and terribly effective. That’s a 5 star delivery!

As I said, she exploits the little material she’s given. Unfortunately, she sometimes takes it too far: pointing the gun at some gangsters and making crazy faces – that’s overacting to say the least. It’s not completely bad, but you can feel the desperation of the actress who is aware she’s doing a shitty role in a shitty movie. [Cassavetes actually had no intention of directing his screenplay, he just wanted to sell it. But when his wife got attached to the project, he was forced to step in]. Talking between her teeth, almost barking at the screen!

I imagined her final scene with the big Mafia boss is gonna give us some huge Oscar moment. It didn’t happen, as the dialogue itself was a boring cliché, with no real meat on it. Gena danced around it and did the best she could, just like she did the hour and a half before that.

This performance has one or two great moments and she was the only one who got me through this movie. I get sad when a wonderful actor doesn’t get the proper material. It could’ve been a great performance of a strong, tough, experienced woman. But it wasn’t; the worse of the film takes over the spotlight. How can I rate this?! It could’ve easily been a 3 or 4, but because I don’t know who Gloria is and I barely believe the information given to me: it’s a . With spots of 5. :)


joe burns said...

This is what I think you ranking will be:
1. Spacek
2. Tyler Moore
3. Hawn
4. Burstyn
5. Rowlands

Alex in Movieland said...


how could you tell?

come on, I still have two movies to see. I have no idea

Cal said...

Oh Alex, you're too harsh!

I know that Rowlands has been a lot more inspired than in Gloria but she elevates the film so much. Just look at how hapless Sharon Stone seems in the remake. It's a thankless role.

Alex in Movieland said...

well, no question she's best in show, but would you really rate it as a 3 or 4?! it's improvising, there's only so much she can do...

joe burns said...

I don't know. Just a hunch. But I'm pretty sure that Burstyn and Rowlands will be your 4th and 5th picks.

Alex in Movieland said...

how many of the performances have you seen? and what's ur ranking

joe burns said...

I've seen none of them! I've seen parts of Ordinary People, but the VHS didn't work and I've also seen parts of Private Benjamin on Tv, but not the whole thing. So, I'm not really qualified to comment on this I guess, but I had a hunch about what your ranking will be. I'll see Coal Miner's Daughter soon and Ordinary People soon as well.