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Review by Gregory Avery
Posted 29 January 1999

  Directed by Sidney Lumet.

Starring Sharon Stone, Jean-Luke Figueroa,
Jeremy Northam, Bonnie Bedelia,
Cathy Moriarty and George C. Scott.

Screenplay by Steven Antin,
based on John Cassavetes' 1980 film

I will borrow a term from a favorite critic of mine and say that I would pan this picture if there were more of a picture to pan.

This is a remake of a John Cassavetes film which drew its power from a stunning central performance by Gene Rowlands, as an aging gun moll who turns tough-as-steel when she protects a young Puerto Rican boy from hitmen. The maternal instinct makes her even more stronger, and tougher. ("You let a WOMAN beat you, you PUNK!" she tells one would-be assailant.) Maternal instinct is not something you see coming from Sharon Stone, in the new movie -- she stares and stares into the face of young Jean-Luke Figueroa, who plays the boy, as if she were desperately trying to find something there. (Figueroa, who is given hardly anything to do, is finally reduced to a small, earnest object with dark eyes.) Stone delivers the awful dialogue she's handed with a Bronx accent that inadvertently gives all her line readings a simpering quality, and, trying to give her character a more appealing emotional range, falters badly in moments where she is supposed to be acting tough and decisive.

So, this ends up turning into another conventional woman-and-kid-on-the-run story, albeit a rather numbing, aimless one at that. (Steve Antin's screenplay seems to be made up of half-formed bits and pieces, all stitched together; the direction is credited to Sidney Lumet, but the picture has been cut and re-cut so many times, it could have been directed by just about anybody.) Jeremy Northam is part of a supremely uninteresting group of supporting players, while appealing performers like Sarita Choudhury, Bonnie Bedelia, Cathy Moriarty (who would have made a REAL Gloria), and George C. Scott (who does a strange, delicate, Cecil Kellaway-ish portrayal of a courtly Irish crime boss) are shunted aside for one or two-scene appearances, only.

I will admit that there are some nice passages in Howard Shore's music score. Astoundingly, John Cassavetes' name is nowhere in evidence during the opening or closing credits. After seeing some of the picture, it's not hard to guess why.

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