09 April 2011

Movies: Stone

Stone (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1423995/

Robert De Niro and Edward Norton team up again. By again I mean they were cast together in 2001's The Score. If you haven't seen it I suggest watching that sometime.  It's a good movie and worth seeing.

Based on the enjoyability factor of The Score, coupled with the talent of the main cast, one would think seeing De Niro and Norton together again would be instant win.  Especially when mixing in a bit of Milla Jovovich.

De Niro plays Jack Mabry - a parole officer that's at the end of his career and ready to retire,   he just wants to see his final cases through.  Norton is Stone Creeson, an inmate on a 10-15yr trying to get paroled at the 8 year mark, and the parole board's decision hinges on Mabry's analysis.  Jovovich plays Mrs. Creeson, she really wants her hubby out of prison and is willing to do anything to make sure that happens.

This, however, isn't a movie designed for you to just sit back and be entertained. This is drama as drama gets; a deep exploration into people's psyche. It may be billed as a thriller but don't let that fool you.  This is a film that requires paying attention and seeing past the surface of what happens otherwise it's an exercise in boredom.

The main story thread is rather predictable, but it isn't about that. It's about about the character's lives, inner demons, motivations.  The strength of the film is seeing the characters, seeing how they operate, seeing how they change or don't change over time, and where they end up in the end.  There's a lot of parallel and metaphor stuff going on, and chances are appreciation of the film may hinge upon realizing there is the literal prison, and there are the metaphorical prisons, and which characters are where during the film. Most of the film is discovering which characters are in prisons, which characters get out of prisons, when characters got in their prisons, when characters got out of their prisons.

Yes, the cast does great in their roles.  The sets are good and believable, as are the characters.  Technically a sound production. But the film trudges along, step by step, from start to finish. There are no moments to snap you to attention if you start to fade. It just isn't that sort of film.

My advice - only if you're in the mood for heavy brain-using drama, like sussing out character arc parallels, and enjoy analyzing the characters minds/motivations/souls on the screen. On some levels I liked the film, others, not so much.

I have to applaud the casting of Enver Gjokaj as a young version of De Niro's Jack Mabry character.  If you watched the TV series Dollhouse you'll recognize him as Victor. He was probably the best actor on that series - he was able to convincingly become any role they put him in, even when he played as other major characters in the series (if you know Dollhouse's premise you'll understand).  And he does a good job of playing a young De Niro in this film.

Plus, see The Score if you haven't - it's a memorable action and intrigue crime thriller.

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