Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gloria (1980 film)

Written and directed by John Cassavetes, Gloria is the story about a gangster’s ex-girlfriend who is protecting a boy who carries crucial information that can bring down the mob as she and the boy are in pursuit. The film is a simple story in which a woman is forced to protect a boy as she comes into conflict into either saving the boy or herself. Starring Gena Rowlands, Julie Carmen, Buck Henry, and John Adames. Gloria is a captivating suspense-drama from John Cassavetes.

The film revolves around this titular character (Gena Rowlands) who is asked by a woman and her husband to protect their son Phil (John Adames) as the husband is already in trouble for leaking information to the FBI as he works as a mob accountant. Though Gloria is a woman who has connections to the mob and was once the girlfriend of a famed gangster. She is reluctant to help take care of Phil as she wanted no involvement in the matter as the people who are going after the boy are her friends. Eventually, Gloria has to deal with various conflicts in her situation as she admittedly doesn’t like kids while she realizes that having this kid killed because of some money figures isn’t the honorable thing to do. Especially as this six-year old Puerto Rican kid is having a hard time understanding the situation as he isn’t sure what side to turn as he and Gloria have to stick together.

John Cassavetes’ screenplay doesn’t really do much to flesh out the plot by focusing more on a woman trying to protect a boy as well as deal with her loyalties to the mob. While the script is filled with dialogue that is intense and frenetic to showcase the tension between Gloria and Phil as the latter is already ravaged by the fact that he is in the care of a very tough woman. Gloria is someone who isn’t afraid to get shot as she always carries a gun and is always ready yet she doesn’t like the fact that she’s being put into a dangerous situation by taking care of a kid as she’s not really a very maternal person. Still, the fact that this kid is in danger because of his father’s actions makes Gloria realize that the mob are doing things that are really cruel where she eventually realizes what she must do for Phil. Though Phil has reservations about Gloria, he does realize that she’s the only person he has right now as the two have to work together to survive.

Cassavetes’ direction is quite intriguing in not just the way he maintains an air of realism in the drama but also in creating an air of suspense where Gloria and Phil are trapped in the middle of New York City and the borough of the Bronx. Cassavetes uses the city as a character in the film where it plays to the idea that Gloria and Phil have to go into places where they can’t hide or go into an area that is dangerous as they’re constantly on the run. Still, Cassavetes maintains that atmosphere where there is this air of uncertainty about the two being captured while taking its time to give the characters a breather as they get to know each other. Particularly as it plays to the idea that the boy needs a mother and the woman has to be there for that boy. By using some wide shots and other stylized moments to play out the element of suspense without getting into any kind of gory violence. Cassavetes creates a very engrossing yet mesmerizing suspense-drama about a woman protecting a boy from the mob.

Cinematographer Fred Schuler does fantastic work with the cinematography to maintain that sense of realism while using some low-key lighting schemes for some of the film‘s interior settings. Editor George C. Villasenor does brilliant work with the editing to create some rhythmic cuts to play out some of its suspenseful moments. Art director Rende D’Auriac and set decorator John Godfrey do terrific work with the set pieces from the secret apartment that Gloria lived in to some of the hotel rooms she and Phil hide out at.

Costume designer Peggy Farrell does wonderful work with the costumes in the way many of the suits the men wear in the film while Emanuel Ungaro creates more stylish clothing that Gloria wears. The sound work of Stan Gordon is superb for the atmosphere that is created including the smaller moments to help build up the suspense. The film’s music by Bill Conti is amazing for its soaring orchestral score that is mixed in with plaintive folk guitars and jazz arrangements to capture the atmosphere of New York City.

The casting by Vic Ramos is great as it features an interesting ensemble that features appearances from Tom Noonan as a henchman, Lawrence Tierney as a bartender, Basilio Franchina as Gloria’s former boyfriend in mob boss Tony Tanzini, Lupe Garnica as Phil’s grandmother, Jessica Castillo as Phil’s sister, Julie Carmen as Phil’s worried mother, and Buck Henry as Phil’s troubled father who puts the family in danger. John Adames is wonderful as the young Phil as a boy who has to endure the new reality he’s in as he is forced to grow up at a very young age and survive against the mob. Finally, there’s Gena Rowlands in a remarkable performance as the titular character as a woman conflicted in her loyalties to the mob while trying to protect a young boy as it’s a riveting performance that allows Rowlands to portray a character that is tough and not willing to back down no matter how grim the situation is.

Gloria is a marvelous film from John Cassavetes that features a brilliant leading performance from Gena Rowlands. While it is a film that is different from Cassavetes’ previous films in terms of a more tightened filmmaking style. It is still a film that is engaging especially as it’s a thriller that is engrossing over its situations and the drama that is presented. In the end, Gloria is a phenomenal film from John Cassavetes.

John Cassavetes Films: (Shadows (1959 film)) - (Too Late Blues) - (A Child is Waiting) - (Faces) - Husbands - (Minnie and Moskowitz) - A Woman Under the Influence - (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie) - (Opening Night) - (Love Streams) - (Big Trouble)

© thevoid99 2013


Anonymous said...

I really loved this movie. For me, I saw similarities between this and 2009's Julia (obviously a very different film) mostly because of the handling of the title characters. Rowlands is exceptional here! Great write up.

thevoid99 said...

I heard Julia is sort of a take on that film as I want to see that one. This film is definitely one of Gena Rowlands' finest performances. Thank you.