Friday, February 24, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Stone (2010) **

R, 105 min.
Director: John Curran
Writer: Angus MacLachlan
Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich, Frances Conroy

Edward Norton has this incredible ability to make just about any choice believable. He’ll take a convict character, like the one in the movie “Stone”, and he can turn him into a hood. You don’t question Norton talking in Ebonics. Then he turns around and transforms the same character into someone who has found enlightenment. His transformation is seamless. The Ebonics disappear and there is no doubt that this character could to this.

That’s not to say the rest of “Stone” is quite so plausible. Unfortunately, it’s one of those movies where all of its seams show, a film where every action pushes a determined plot that does not flow naturally from the characters involved. The performances by De Niro, Jovovich and Conroy are all great, but you can feel the people behind the camera in what these characters go through.

Norton’s character makes a great example here. He’s been in prison for eight years. Why contain his transformation within his parole process? Why not show him failing his parole first and then go through a transformation before his next shot? Why contain these events to such a small period of time? The issues dealt with here are ones that these characters would struggle with throughout their entire lives.

Frances Conroy’s trapped wife is given more meat than her story is given development. She’s been with De Niro for so long, we need more than just the early scene in their marriage and her final solution to the problem of her husband to figure her out. Her devotion to God tells us something about her, but what exactly? We don’t see how she incorporates her relationship with God into the life she chooses to stay in through great sacrifice.

There are a great many things that work in this movie, but director John Curran seems determines to push his characters to certain conclusions rather than truly exploring the process that gets them there. Norton is able to sell his process despite the surface only application it is given, but the meat of the story lies within De Niro’s character, who never quite connects with the place he ends up.

No comments: