Gloriai is a superb piece of cinema. The actual kind.
First and foremost for the location shots. This is the last document of the last breath of a New York that has meanwhile died. Before it died it mattered, before it died it put the United States on the map. Since it has died the crude, ill conceived, iTunes store bought replacement has been pretending, increasingly less convincingly, to be a continuator. It is not, New York ended in 1980, there's a sharp phase transition just like the maggot infested corpse of Auden's boyfriend ten days after his death is in no way similar or a replacement for the living thing. Even if it's roughly the same shape, and occupies roughly the same geographical location, and consists of roughly the same atoms, molecules and compounds. This film is the last photograph we have of New York living.
Secondly, but just as foremost, for the dialogue. Consider some epic lines :
"Fuck! He don't know the score. He sees a dame like you and a guy like me. He don't know."
(Said by a 6 yo Puerto Rican kid on the lam to a 50 yo retired, blonde prostitute.)
- If you wanted to split up, it's okay with me.
- Just don't be phony. I hate that.
- We'll split up.
- What's that supposed to be, a threat? You can't even carry my bag. You can't even speak English. You can't even remember that book. And you don't know enough to apologize when you're wrong. You don't listen. And you're rude.
- I'm rude?
(Same 6 yo kid, earnestly surprised that he'd be rude. What, you're not born with an innate knowledge of social convention ?!)
The third, and even more foremost, is the tragic condition of that woman. It is built on two pillars. The first occurs sometime in the subway, when you suddenly realise that as cursed as she is with a clueless child, she's actually above average when it comes to male partners. That's right : on average, the partnered woman has a worse partner than that six year old. Because at least he dun motherfucking gamble, he ain't a junkie and he's not experienced enough to boast effectually yet. He likes to pretend as much as he will two decades later, but he doesn't know how to disguise it worth a shit yet. Huge plus.
The second pillar is even more devastating : as she's shooting up a caporegime and his entire crew, it becomes obvious that this woman is a hero that was never called. Because that's what happens to women, they're these springs of steel capable of incredible feats, just as soon as a man calls them to it. And well... nobody called Gloria. So she's aged, quietly, wilted away as the flower never visited by any bee. It happens, you know ? Accidentally, randomly, every year some flowers wilt unloved for no particular reason, just, no bee got to them.
It happened to Gloria. May it never happen to you.———
- Not the current crappy thing. The 1980 Gloria, by John Cassavetes, with Gena Rowlands and John Adames (Julie Carmen also appears, but considering her role and that she doesn't even show us her tits, she doesn't get mentioned). [↩]