An interesting film, grows on you (by economically_deficient)
Going to the theater, my expectations of "Stone" were rather typical of any thriller produced nowadays. Reading the somewhat misleading synopsis and looking through the cast, I couldn't set my hopes up to anything far beyond "ordinary thriller with a decent cast that probably won't outdo a potentially blunt story".Keep in mind: this is NOT a thriller, at least in the conventional sense of the word. It's a heavy drama with extremely minimal undertones of suspense.The basis of the story is quite simple read the synopsis , but the majority of the film's <more>
focus is in its character study. This is where the actors seriously shine. That seems to be the issue with most of the negative responses the film received. Yes, it is slow paced. Yes, there's a lot of religious jargon thrown around. Yes, it is quite the anti-climactic film. But isn't that the point? De Niro, who I haven't seen in anything memorable after Jackie Brown okay, I'll exclude The Good Shepherd , is marvelous as the underplayed Jack Mabrey. The subtle nuances he gives to a character so burned out of work, marriage -sidenote: Frances Conroy was amazing-, and life in general the speech he gives at his brother's funeral in the beginning comes to mind are nothing short of astonishing. I can't stress on how great the performance was, De Niro has definitely gone back on track.Edward Norton is equally terrific. I could go on and on about his perfect use of mannerisms, facial gestures, and especially the accent to formulate an interesting character. What I found interesting, and fortunately detracted any notions of the film being one-sided religious crap, was the contrast between Jack and Stone's religious beliefs/endeavors; Mabrey, for instance, sitting in the porch with his disturbingly delusional wife, discussing religion and the existence of God, while shunning its very purpose during situations of danger and conflict the seduction, and another scene towards the end which I won't spoil . Stone, on the other hand, a misguided delinquent with strange views of death, forms an epiphany on the purpose of his existence at a more realistic - another good word is unconstitutional - level during his stay in prison, confusing the hell out of everyone due to his inability of expressing it on a more intellectual basis. This probably makes one very lucky case of ignorance being bliss.The biggest surprise, however, was Milla Jovovich. I honestly did not see that coming from her at all. Her previous attempt in handling a serious role in ".45" only came off as an attempt, with clunky overacting that I guess can be forgiven due to the frigging horrible writing and direction of that film. But she does extremely well here as Stone's wife, the sexy seductress with a personally agonizing struggle of commitment. With her loyalty to Stone becoming blurred through the sexual encounters with other men and her general flirtatious attitude, it was mesmerizing to see Jovovich pull it off so well. She was simply dynamic in this film.As the credits started rolling, I could hear many people in the theater ranting about how their time has been wasted. Lots of "what the hell?" came up, too. I'll admit that it came off as a surprise to how it just abruptly ended, but I eventually managed to appreciate the artistic integrity of the film. One reviewer here commented: "Stone is well acted. So what? Do you go to the movies to see good acting class exercises?" I can't put myself to agree with this, the film's got far more that just "acting class exercises". It is a sharply written, well directed film that I plan on watching again.It sure got me thinking, and that seems to be what many others don't expect anymore.
"Stone" The overlooked film of the year (by Dexter22)
When reading the ratings and reviews of this film I believe that some viewers went in expecting something different. I can fully understand that it wasn't for everyone. The film surprised me as to how non typical it was in its plotting but it was the best character study in a long time.Jack Deniro is about to retire but requests that he can finish his final convicts paroles. Stone Norton is one of those convicts. Stone starts as a character who wants out of prison but not for the reasons a parole officer would want. The plot is seemingly straight forward in its setup. Mila Jovavich <more>
gives a wonderful performance, most notably because the audience is never really clear on which direction she is taking in her motivation. Its not a trait to make her more of a suspenseful character, its to show how one dimensional her relationship really is with Stone.The essential plot setup is Jovavich and Stone decide on a plan to seduce Jack so that the parole is a must. The problem is that once this starts, Stone begins to experience change. As does Jack. I will not go into it much more. The film relies on the characters emotions rather than intense cat and mouse games. The film sets the audience to follow the "good guy" Deniro but it challenges the audience later to decide really who to trust.The most interesting aspect is that Jack is content when listening to Stone's problems but when Stone begins to change, Jack is not alright with it. The years of holding back his darkness cannot stay contained when he is not judging others.The film is definitely one to be analyzed. This could be why the reception is severely mixed. It had a profound effect on emotion. No specific type except dread and in some cases, familiar motives.The film cannot be reviewed without a depth of character discussion, so in this case check the film out. Just do not expect typical suspense thrillers Hollywood has given. Ignore the rating until you view it yourself. And if nothing seems to get your interest, just expect great performances for Deniro, Jovavich, and Norton.
That Rare Film That Gives You a Fresh, Different and Challenging Experience (by jzappa)
Norton plays Gerald Creeson, incarcerated for his part in a fire connected to the slaying of his grandparents. De Niro is Jack Mabry, who behaves and works on the nose to keep himself from bleak basal personality trends. He's a dedicated Christian prison P.O. outrun by the decades of deceit he's heard from offenders, always swearing they're innocent, they're sorry, they've found God. He maintains the ever-weakening scaffold with an inexhaustible watercourse of fire-and-brimstone talk radio and a few whopping bourbons between dinner and bed.De Niro's a veteran at <more>
playing characters who obsessively struggle to compensate for debilitating inadequacies. Here it's rage, which perchance brings about lust. Unflinching and talented director John Curran and shrewdly insightful writer Angus MacLachlan's spare, melancholy drama opens with a younger Mabry playing out a shocking scene with his young wife and baby. Years later, they're still married, in a forsaken bottleneck anchored in interpersonal obstruction. He does nothing "immoral." It's his obligation to remain married. His wife Frances Conroy, whose understated performance stabs you in the heart, looks stooped against swipes that never come. But Mabry just keeps on unconsciously nursing whiskey and gaping at the TV, the wall, whatever.It's time for his retirement. He could forward his case load on to his legatee, but no: He'll fulfill his responsibility to the final T. That involves managing a parole plea by Creeson, who's dreadfully clever, an emotional conspirator, whose wife Lucetta is such a woman that such a man might exploit and be exploited by. Creeson intuits that Mabry, the obliged square-shooter, might be susceptible to certain inducements. Lucetta is sharp enough to undertake, not an intrepid come-on, but a psychological enterprise in which Mabry more or less does the tempting himself.This is a scenario which cannot be organized into a tidy prison thriller. It entails maneuverings as regards not just behavior, but the messily impalpable hidden drives behind it. Mabry spots in Creeson all the treacherous whims he fears in his own id. Mabry's fiction about himself is that he's a virtuous man, committed to responsibility. However, through that prologue, we know he's in systematic denial about his own devastating compulsions. Lucetta has a crucial part in unearthing and stage-managing a path through Mabry's resistances. How does Creeson feel about the prospect that she'll get carnal with Mabry? How does he feel about her sex life by and large? Is her lechery handy to him? If so is she aware? Stone could've been the standard genre sequence of technical detail, a clear-cut crime movie, but it's too intricate for that. It's truly keen on the psyches and inner lives of these characters, and how they greet a precarious state of affairs, a three-way personality study, as each participant plans, responds and develops through burden from the other two. Each personifies several contradictions, and the film keeps us speculating and paying close attention. De Niro is so uncannily realistic at playing a man who's effectively enfeebled himself owing to apprehension about his resentment, so that sexuality and rage may be harnessed in exactly the contrary way, as in some of his pinnacle characters.As in all commanding dialogue-driven films, talk totals action, and it feels like it. The exhilaration here is incited by the vocal and physical mutualism between the uniformly riveting actors, and the dramatic characterization they're given by the sensitive camera and the drum-tight cutting. De Niro's performance is some of the most gripping work he's done in a decade, honest, emotionally alive, and a powerhouse refresher of his gift for devoting extraordinary amounts of preparation and research into a performance the nevertheless in effect feels uncannily moment-by-moment. In his agonizingly jaded domestic scenes with Conroy we see another breed of life sentence, two strangers chained together, lumbering the lingering ultimate lap. He inhabit's an unblinkingly realistic union of spiritual fatigue and shrouded malice.Norton's Creeson exudes misleading geniality in his early scenes. We watch him think as he psychologically tilts his way through the consultations right in front of us. Then he starts to internally transform, and it's not merely his corn-rowed hair that disentangles. But the pleasant surprise is that Milla Jovovich's unpredictably bizarre pussycat Lucetta's just as captivating. As with everything in this film, she's difficult to peg, and that gives the movie its admittedly uncommon intensity. She sometimes appears like a rag doll in her husband's ruse, and conversely an eerily blissful doxy entertained by her control over men.Stone is a fresh, different and challenging experience as each divulges a benevolent side and a malicious one. Scene after scene is a tractor pull as the disparate clique strive for control and preservation instinct. The story dwells in instability, in uncertainties that proliferate without remedy. The technique of the film's sound design is one of the most striking elements of Stone. Secondary reverberations, for example the buzzing of a bee, are drawn upon to enhance the film's intimate probing of obscure, indefinable themes.
Some people tell lies. Others live them. (by omfgitsrohit)
Jack Mabry while appearing to live the life of a 'good' human being is confronted with thoughts that aren't supposed to occur to such a person. He's been married for over forty years, has never broken the law and works as a parole officer trying to reform people. But what does that do to him? There isn't a soul he trusts; he's carved that way. Prison inmates are trying to keep up with him by creating an impression and get him to believe that they've turned over a new leaf. With all the experience he's had, he sees through all of it. Not for long.Gerald Creeson <more>
better known as 'stone' is under the supervision of Jack. Empty and pointless is what he believes his life is as long as he's in prison. There's desperation to break free. He believes he deserves it. Attempting to needle the vulnerable side of Mabry by sending his sexy wife, Lucetta, to meet with him, he hopes to be released. How long could that last?Lucetta is no femme fatale, as the trailer would have you believe. A buoyant, effusive, middle-aged nymphomaniac is what she is. Stone tells Jack that she's an 'alien'.Madlyn, Jack's wife is like stone. Jack has threatened her before and the memory of the experience doesn't fade away. She's stuck in a loveless marriage and doesn't have the nerve to raise the issue about her 'soul being kept in a dungeon'.There're some interesting issues raised by the film, and without being answered or taken a stand for or against, are put in front of us through the characters. Does sin come naturally to human beings? Does being physically imprisoned mean no freedom? Are we all hypocrites after all? Is it foolish to sought after the righteous path? Is there a definite righteous path? Is there a higher power watching over us and our actions?Jack is the lead character and it's his perspective that is the focal point of the film, which is why we don't know what's happening. Like him, we don't know whether to trust the characters or not because clearly they all have their own motives. The narrative doesn't intend to spoon-feed its viewers. You have to see the film again through the eyes of each character, pay attention to their reactions and understand their motives with which you determine whether they have done what Jack believes they did, or not. This is no ordinary thriller. It's heavy. It's complex. It's an in depth character study. John Curran's real deal is in displaying these characters, how they feel. What's going on inside their heads.Acting is first rate. Robert Deniro, a name that echoes unforgettable characters- Jake Lamotta, Travis Bicke, Jimmy Conway, Vito Corleone and a lesser known Rupert Pupkin, has shown that even at this age he's capable of doing much more than what he's been doing for the past ten years- frowning, cursing, head tilting and spastic nodding. Edward Norton, who has proved time and again that he's not merely an actor with expressions but a character artist, delivers a gritty performance. This one's nothing like his other characters. People have complained about this role being similar to Primal fear and American History X particularly because all three of them are prisoners but that's just being myopic. That's like saying Robert Deniro is not versatile because he's played only gangsters and tough guys, or even more abstract- in almost every movie of his, he's malicious. It's not what viewers choose to reduce those complex characters to, with a word or two. It's the way the characters are played. Vito Corleone and Jimmy Conway are both Italian Mafiosos but are their characters similar? Not at all. In spite of all the praise I've given these two actors, it is Milla Jovovich who steals the film. Her performance is something that I'd characterize as a combination of Karen Black in Five easy pieces and Uma Thurman in Pulp fiction. She's the soul of the film. Frances Conroy is spot on with the character. She doesn't have much screen time but when she's on screen, you see her dying within and losing hope, shred by shred.The director, John Curran and the screenwriter, Angus Maclachlan have made an original film that works only because the actors understand its subtleties. The other elements although unable to atomize themselves on independent merit are all appropriate. The sound design is at a strangely different frequency focusing more on background noises, the score is haunting and the cinematography, I have to point out, would've really enriched the feel of the film had it been shot in black and white with low key lighting- in the realm of film noir. What's left at the end is an incomplete puzzle of a film that you're expected to finish. Stone doesn't go easy on you. It is a film of major distinction that made me feel privileged as a film viewer. For my intelligence was not just respected, but trusted.Rating-9/10
A excellent psychological thriller. (by Epicurean080)
It's really a shame that most people can't appreciate the depth and intelligence of this film. The actors, and mostly De Niro and Norton, gives a fantastic performance. Many reviews before speak about the story but I think that the substance of the film is the interaction among the 2 male characters. Maybe the story could go feather deep in the psych of the characters, and this is my only complain and possibly weak point of it, but the epic acting makes for it. And for the people that are frustrated because they cant see the movie as a clear thriller or drama, maybe they have to open <more>
their mind and look beyond the lines of the conformity with the conventional patterns.
STONE 2010 *** Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich, Frances Conroy, Sarab Kamoo. Absorbing drama about career parolee De Niro in one of his better turns as of late whose complacent world of lachrymose and regret is upended when a violent prisoner riveting Norton enters with his case pending, and a ripe, will-do-anything for her husband wife the bewitchingly good Jovovich at his bidding. Seduction, betrayal and good ol'mind f***ing with some great performances and a shrewd direction by John Curran with a serpentine screenplay by Angus MacLachlan making things lively with <more>
A good story made up for by phenomenal acting (by QuickFlixster)
I went to see Stone earlier today for an advance screening as Ed Norton is promoting the film at my school next week. Honestly I had absolutely no idea what this film was about going in. The marketing just flew over my head I suppose. I just knew who was acting in it.Stone centers around Jack Marby played by Bobby D, a welcome sight that he isn't in a Meet the... movie , a parole board officer who does preliminary interviews on convicts who are approaching their hearings. His character has a dark past we're alluded to in an all to short opening flashback, and he is something of a dead <more>
individual who is absolutely done dealing with people lying and manipulating him to get the parole board to let them go. We meet him as he nears retirement and wraps up his last inmates. This last inmate is convicted arsonist "Stone" played by Ed Norton who is trying to manipulate Jack into letting him free, even if it means having his gorgeous wife Lucette Milla Jovovich pull some strings from the outside.What follows is a great character drama, and the acting in it is phenomenal. It really is. Milla Jovovich stands out the most I think with her character who has a lot to do. I'd personally give her an Oscar nod. Truly though, this is some great acting. De Niro is perfect as the strung out officer, and Norton plays the convict expertly who can express a wide range of emotions and display many motivations.My complaint with the film is that the audience is left wanting more from the story, and not in a good way. We have a short opening flashback of Jack, which shows a disturbed and violent man, that I an all the others who saw it thoroughly enjoyed. But they never came back to that. It presented some interesting back story and hinted a lot, but there is no pay off.That being said, that is my only complaint. I think that the acting here was truly great, and the story might be a bit straightforward, was still thoughtful and pensive and entertaining to watch unfold.I had no expectations, but I thought it was very well done. There was also great editing and sound design, which you'll notice early on. All in all, a good character piece that carries a weak story that leaves you wanting more. There is a lot to enjoy and take in as Lucetta and Stone work on getting him out of prison. Very solid film. Not perfect, but solid.
John Curran hits the mark with his new film "Stone". In his new drama thriller "Stone", Curran takes us on a gripping spiritual journey through the lives of Jack Robert De Niro , Gerald Edward Norton and the two character's wives Madylyn Fransis Conroy , and Lucetta Milla Jovovich . DeNiro and Norton literally explode on the screen, a parade of their craft, releasing the tension of an un-nerving introduction to the film; the two actors comedically butt horns which provides relief to the grim subject matter. So much so at the premiere viewing the audience burst <more>
into applause. A delicate balance is sought by the Director and Writer both thematically and stylistically. Four distinct styles of seeing illuminate the lives of our players. Stagnant, washed out imagery surrounds Madylyn. Pale greens and extreme soft focus paint the world where we find her dogmatically reading bible passages and killing time smoking cigarettes. A second, portrays Jack as he creates his own harsh, rigid experience. Repetitive, measured landscapes and the strong imagery of soldiers and guns is telling of Jack's boring bureaucratic life. A third, and an early glimpse at the transcendent nature of the film can only be described as breathtaking. Surprisingly, we are shown Gerald's prison world, surreal, an unlikely source of redemption, literally floating in the clouds..
STONE is a complex film, perhaps too complex to create the impact that the story seems to be taking as writer Angus MacLaughlin and Director John Curran seduce us into this study of manipulation, age versus youth, religion versus atheism versus spirituality, and crime in all its permutations. That is a big load of topics for one film to handle but thanks to a quartet of fine actors the film works. Jack Mabry Robert De Niro is an aging parole officer at a prison who is finishing his career and preparing for retirement: being the seasoned lawman he is he requests to finish his current case <more>
load instead of passing it off to his replacement. Because of his success in his field he is asked to review the case of an arsonist called Stone Edward Norton who is up for early release. Stone is a foul-mouthed, sassy, wily fellow who sees no importance to Jack except as a possible path to being released from prison. The two men parlay and create boundaries that make the process seem unlikely - until Stone brings his amoral, promiscuous wife Lucetta Milla Jonovich into the plan. Jack has always been a monogamous husband to his evangelically oriented wife Madylyn Frances Conroy - the film opens with a shocking scene from the early years of their marriage that sets the atmosphere for their strained family life - making the likelihood of Stone and Lucetta's plan seem unlikely. Jack is certain that he will do a good job as a parole reviewer for Stone, but when Stone introduces the wiles of Lucetta much changes in the personality and philosophy of Jack. And while this transformation into a pawn for a deceitful plan is working Stone appears to have a spiritual experience in jail - a confusing element for everyone in the film and in the audience. How Jack is manipulated by Stone and Lucetta and the aftermath of Jack's input to the review board supplies the grit for the ending of the film with unexpected twists for all four characters. Edward Norton, complete with tattoos and corn rolled hair, gives us a character we cannot ignore or forget at movie's end. He is astonishingly fine. De Niro, Conroy and Jonovich are equally convincing in these complex and well-drawn roles. This is a film that is at once cerebral and powerful. The manner in which director Curran uses a near constant stream of radio evangelism as the background for this film is ingenious: the payoff is excellent. Grady Harp