East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Canonball #992: Gloria

USA, 1980
Starring Gena Rowlands, John Adames
Written and directed by John Cassavetes

Cassavetes spent most of his career working on the brink of ludicrousness; here he dives in. He wrote Gloria with commercial intentions; the result fails miserably as a genre movie and fails honourably as an art movie. Sentimentality is avoided through implausibility, which is even worse than it sound because what possible appeal the screenplay has is in its sentimentality. Adames's Razzie Award-winning performance isn't entirely his fault: the Lil' Cassavetes role he was handed could never amount to anything. He gets several jaw-droppingly misgotten monologues, including one that goes:

I am the man. I am the man. I am the man. Do you hear me? I am the man. I am the man. Not you, you're not the man. I am the man. I know(?) anything I can. I am the man.

Cassavetes could've made the kid talk like an actual grief-stricken six-year-old, but I guess it was easier to paste in some leftover dialogue from some other screenplay. Rowlands, meanwhile, plays Gloria with crusty isolationism, although why she got an Oscar nom is beyond me (though not as inconceivable as the Golden Lion they gave the movie). Also to be commended: Cassavetes's sense of geography, Romare Bearden's paintings in the title sequence, and Bill Conti's score. None of this is enough to save the movie, though.


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