Movies & Videos
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

    Related Item
A Stone-Cold Awful 'Gloria'

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 29, 1999

  Movie Critic

Sharon Stone stars as "Gloria." (Columbia)

Sidney Lumet
Sharon Stone;
Jean-Luke Figueroa;
Jeremy Northam;
Cathy Moriarty;
Mike Starr;
George C. Scott;
Bonnie Bedelia
Running Time:
1 hour, 48 minutes
Contains nudity, violence, profanity and Sharon Stone
Actors are often told they should never accept a role that involves performing with dogs or children. But child actor Jean-Luke Figueroa, who makes his debut in "Gloria," has learned the reverse truth: No kids should ever play opposite Sharon Stone. She could destroy their fledgling careers.

I do not come to bury Stone or "Gloria," but to disinter them. Columbia Pictures has already taken care of burial rites, declining to screen the film for critics ahead of opening day, which was last Friday. Everyone knows what that usually means: The movie's damaged goods, dead on arrival, a box office turkey, a bomb. Columbia Pictures obviously figured they'd slink quietly into the marketplace and steal a few million at the box office before reviewers pulled out the knives. Or, in my case, the shovel.

But a classic like this deserves to be unearthed! After all, this picture is likely to command a pedestal of its own at the local video store. Just check for shelves marked either "Sharon Stone" or "Staff's Worst Picks of 1999." It will surely be there in all its G-L-O-R-Y.

Just out of a Miami prison, where she took a three-year fall for mobster boyfriend Kevin (Jeremy Northam), Gloria (Stone) returns to New York City to visit her sleazy paramour. But Kevin, who never visited her in jail, is every bit the complete loser he always was. In fact, when she arrives, Kevin's boys are holding 6-year-old Nicky (Figueroa), the sole survivor of a family they just shot to pieces. The kid's going to be killed off sooner or later.

What's a New York moll in pumps to do? She grabs some firepower, orders Kevin and his henchman to strip their clothes and toss them on to the street, then breaks out of the stronghold with Nicky in tow. To add high stakes to all this, Nicky is holding an incriminating floppy disk that lists the complete directory of the syndicate and all the cops they're paying off.

There you have it, a sort of mafia road movie: The dame and the kid running for their lives. The angry boyfriend who has to answer to the don (George C. Scott, clearly out of his gourd to be in this film) who wants that floppy at any cost. Bouncing from motel to motel, Gloria and Nicky yell and bicker, as they escape their relentless pursuers. But all the while #&150; here's the beautiful part #&150; they're learning to love each other.

Sharon, Sharon, Sharon. Where do we start extolling your virtues?

Fans who appreciate Stone for her nudity, as well as story lines that depend on gruesome cutlery stashed under beds, are going to be sorely disappointed. Stone seems to have had a clause in her contract that she show her gams gratuitously throughout the movie – but nothing else. Slavering fans must content themselves with her tough and sexy presence, the way she propels her leggy self forward, trussed in miniskirts and ankle-locked in killer pumps, as she spirits the kid out of danger.

But above all, this movie is about Stone's thespian abilities, even if they do make Pia Zadora seem like Liv Ullmann. It's about that Noo Yawk accent she does – something to treasure for a lifetime. You haven't lived until you hear Stone tell Northam, "I took da rap for ya, I'm tryin to change my life heah." It's about finesse too. I'm talking about the way Stone's character "arcs" from "tough broad" to a loving person with a warm heart. A hard-baked moll – how many times do you meet someone like that in a movie?

Director Sidney Lumet, for whom "12 Angry Men," "The Pawnbroker," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network" were just warm-ups for this rhapsodic triumph, has apparently directed the supporting cast to play down, so Stone can shine on her own. Northam, a British actor plays a mobster with some sort of American wiseguy accent. But is it Italian, Latvian or the London suburb of Islington? That's unselfishness for you. Sarita Choudhury, who plays Nicky's mother, follows suit. She purposefully lets her Indian accent pulverize whatever accent she's supposed to be going for – a sort of Rosie Perez shtick. Thanks to her generosity, I didn't believe in her performance at all – which gave me more time to concentrate on Stone's mastery.

Okay, you say there were animatronic velociraptors in "Jurassic Park" that displayed more acting chops than Sharon Stone. But if you cynics could just see the bittersweet pain in her face, as she tries to make nice with the kid, you'd understand. She's busting her soul for you people. I'm getting teary just thinking about it.

What's that? You're not interested? Wait, hear me out. Think of the exultant feeling you'll have after watching this. When I staggered, zombielike, on to Wisconsin Avenue after watching this epic, I felt older, wiser and strangely free. How many movies can you say that about?

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Back to the top
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar