Good movies are timeless. Or they feel so. Sometimes this is because their subject is universal and it does not really matter what epoch the action is set in. In some other cases the quality of the story and of the acting make the period irrelevant. A good example is ‘Gloria‘, a film made in 1980 by director (and actor) about whom I knew very little before seeing this film. And yet, ‘Gloria‘ is a gangster movies that keeps the interest of viewers all over the two hours of screen time and looks new and fresh, despite having been filmed almost 40 years ago.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080798/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080798/

 

The subject of the film will look familiar, as later movies like ‘s ‘Léon’ have dealt with the theme of gangsters involved folks meeting and befriending kids, and melting to humanity in the course of the story. ‘Gloria‘ however included from start a big twist. The lead adult hero is a woman, the ex-girlfriend of one of the mob chiefs, who witnesses the murder of the family of a six years old kid (her neighbor) who has nobody left to care about him and no place to go. Taking him under her protection means placing her in conflict with the mob (as the kid holds an accounting book with compromising mafia secrets) and with the law (she is believed to have kidnapped the kid). What follows is a few days of running from everybody and fighting for survival in the New York of 1980.

 

(video source subtitles archive)

 

The New York in the film is a city that looks so familiar: the streets (much dirtier and more dangerous than today), the buildings (combining modern and decrepit), the skyline (with the painful silhouettes of the twin towers), the people who look so much the same as the diverse human landscape of the big city we know. The only major thing that seems to have changed is the value of the dollar. It may be as difficult as 40 years ago to change a 100 dollars bill, but two dollars fifty cents would not be sufficient nowadays for any room in a city hotel, probably not even for a tip in any city hotel. The other ingredient that makes the film interesting is the excellent acting performance of who partners with the young , a kid actor who did not grow into an adult actor. She is vulnerable as a woman who does not like kids (her cat is collateral damage in the first minutes of the film) and has a troubled past, yet strong as she knows the language and manners of the crime world and how to survive it. The ending is a little disappointing, unexpectedly conventional for such a film that is so non-conventional from many points of view, but this does not spoil too much the good impression left by this fresh classic.