Gloria (John Cassavetes, 1980)
It tells the story of a gangster's girlfriend who goes on the run with a young boy who is being hunted by the mob for information he may or may not have.
As much as director John Cassavetes hit a home run with his film A Woman Under the Influence starring his wife Gena Rowlands, he would have been average with his Gloria. At first, Cassavetes didn’t wanted to direct the movie and sold the script to Columbia Pictures. But when Rowlands was linked to the title character she asked for him to direct it. Mixing Cassavetes’ use of Cinéma Vérité and the big studio means, Gloria is on the limit between the independent picture that characterized the director’s fruitful career and the conventional mob movies.
Co-starring John Adames in his single role ever as the young boy surviving his family just like the same year that Danny Lloyd gave is only performance but quite memorable in The Shining, Adames might be one of the worst child actors to be on screen. Well, the dialogues and the improbable situations didn’t helped him to be much more charming or sympathetic.
Honestly, it is a movie I was really eager to watch and John Cassavetes is a filmmaker that I highly respect for the entire body of his work. Even when some of his films like Husbands becomes a little too much improvised and his scenes tend to run too long I liked his guts and how he brought life into his writings by having a flair to let the action unravel and expand in memorable moments of genuine humanity.
At some point, they are deeply involving films that takes a lot of your energy and they don’t play out as mechanical or operatic as the classic Hollywood patterns go. It is one of the main reasons why I wasn’t convinced about Gloria, it is not as involving as the great Cassavetes pictures. Mixed with that is the fact that Cassavetes directs his movies like documentaries and Gloria felt short from being a documentary but is still very far from being The Godfather . It’s like it is between waters of genre, style, and cinematic language.
With all that said, it is hard to recommend this movie except for completists of John Cassavetes movies. With A Woman Under the Influence you have one of his greatest films but I believe that with Gloria it is one of his lesser works.