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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Love Draws Mush From Tough City Stone

Sharon Stone may have left her heart in San Francisco, but the rest of her is strictly from Noo Yawk in a richly comic performance as the heroine of "Gloria," now showing at the American House of Cinema.

To hear Stone turning "off" into "awf," "all right" into "awright," "the" into "duh" and "go ahead" into "g'head" is a delight all by itself. But her Gloria also talks tough, spews obscenities, wields handguns with unflinching authority, drives like a demon, makes grown males strip, tells a little boy precisely why, anatomically, he is not a man and gives him advice about the kind of fun she expects him to have when - and if - he grows up, which involves booze, gambling, tuxedos and skinny but otherwise well-endowed blondes.

"I like sleeping with you," the little boy tells Gloria after they have spent a night in a motel. And Gloria says, "You know, you're not the first guy to tell me that."

A self-described broad, Gloria is a brassy, gutsy, foul-mouthed ex-con who finds she has an unexpected heart of mush when her error-prone path through life crosses that of little Nicky Nunez (Jean-Luke Figueroa), whose father made the mistake of taking work home.

Because Nicky's father is an accountant for a gangster named Kevin (Jeremy Northam), and because the work in question consists of a computer disk containing the incriminating names of police officers, judges and congressmen on the mob payroll, Kevin is understandably eager to recover it.

So he dispatches one of his henchman to the apartment where the Nunez family lives. And because Nicky's father is reluctant to reveal the whereabouts of the disk at once, the henchman successively shoots and kills Mrs. Nunez, her mother, Nunez and his daughter.

The disk, at this time, is on its way down a fire escape in the custody of Nicky, who is seized by the gangsters just in time to be present in Kevin's headquarters when Gloria returns from a three-year absence. Since he was once Gloria's lover, these premises are her former apartment, and since she is just out of a Florida prison on parole after taking a rap for Kevin, she is understandably testy.

When Gloria realizes that 6-year-old Nicky has been marked for murder, she takes matters into her own hands, and off they go on a run through New York City. Kevin meanwhile, is sweating out a deadline imposed by his boss, the smooth but menacing Ruby (George C. Scott), another of Gloria's ex-lovers; and Gloria, who shouldn't be in New York in the first place, is sweating out the deadline for an imminent date with her parole officer in Florida.

As written by Steve Antin and directed by Sidney Lumet with his customary fine eye for the urban landscape of New York City, this "Gloria" is a smoother, funnier, more suspenseful and more endearing version of the 1980 John Cassavetes film of the same title.

Young Figueroa makes a fine foil for the intermittently maternal Gloria. And Stone, who in one guise or another has always been a treat, turns in a performance that definitely merits the key to Noo Yawk.

- Lawrence van Gelder

The New York Times