FANTASTIC FEST 2010
By Dave Campbell | October 7, 2010
Director: John Curran
Writer: Angus MacLachlan
Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich, Frances Conroy
Stone takes us to the economically ravaged, and socially decayed suburban Detroit and a nearby maximum security state prison. Days from retirement, Michigan parole officer Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro) begins to review the case of a corn-rowed street-talking convict Gerald “Stone” Creeson (Edward Norton), who has been in jail for eight years for arson in connection to the murder of his grandparents committed by his cousin. Stone is now eligible for an early release and insists that he’s a changed man who has found religion (an abscure one at that) and deserves parole.
However, Jack has seen and heard it all from the countless cons that enter his office. Seeing this, Stone wises up and recruits his beautiful wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) to intervene with Jack. Seduced by Lucetta, Jack stumbles into an affair he tries to hide from his wife of more than 40 years, Madylyn (Frances Conroy), as well as Stone. The result is a disastrous collision of two men’s broken lives and how their past and current decisions (passion, betrayal and corruption) lead them into uncertain futures.
It’s good to see De Niro in something other than a Focker movie, but he is far removed from his Raging Bull days and rather uninspired. Norton is one of the best actors of his generation working today, but I was almost unable to accept his approach at Stone until halfway through the film. Even then, the writing of the character wasn’t consistent from beginning to end so it left me ultimately confused. After all these years and all of the great things both De Niro and Norton have accomplished, it’s simply just a bland movie for them. Sure Milla Jovovich is full of sexual charisma, but I’ve been having a hard time with her dramatic roles in the last couple of years. She’s seems to be taking herself so seriously that it’s apparent that she’s acting and it pulls me right out.
We are given an opening scene that screams promise of a climactic outcome, but it turns out that this incredible opening scene stands alone and without reflection. Stone is one of those films that looks like it will be an Oscar contender because of the elements of potential that is possesses…but as it turns out, Stone lacks the cadence that is needed to pull that off. So much is weighed on the religion obsessed character plots and their underlined struggles of sin-and-redemption that the story never seems to gel or resolve anything by the end. Overall Director John Curran (We Don’t Live Here Anymore, The Painted Veil) marinates on some heavy themes in Stone that never seem to fully cook.