Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Stone" (2010) - Movie Review

The background noise becomes an unnoticeable strong presence in “Stone”. It has a reference and it becomes the end but the idea of that making a larger significance in the life of the characters in the film makes it special. Advertised as the psychological game played by a convict over his correctional officer trying to weasel his way out of the prison Stone’s best thing is that you never know whether you are still being played. It transforms into a serious conversation after a point but still there is this iota of doubt lingering and as faith or belief, you leave with that from the theatre.

Edward Norton and Robert De Niro shared screen in a moderately impressive “The Score” nine years back and here they are here in a well deserving film for both of their calibre. More than Norton, De Niro takes up a challenging role he has not ventured in for a long time. Robert De Niro is Jack, the correctional officer in a marriage with nothing but bible reading and whisky. His wife Madylyn (Frances Conroy) tried to leave him a long time back but more than his threatening, his cowardice spurred more fear in Madylyn. She has stayed with him for forty-three years and there is tragedy and sympathy towards her but no surprise.

Jack has few weeks to go before he gets out of this job wherein all he has heard is the same thing. Then comes Stone (Edward Norton) with an interesting hair do and a typical attitude. Their conversations becomes smoothly riveting. Stone talks a lot and he wants out, desperately. Stone is in for being an arsonist but there is more to it. Jack goes over him as a usual case. He tries to understand his regret not because he wants to but only to satiate his job responsibility. Stone reads it perfectly and needs more on his side than his talk. He has a hand on outside. His wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) comes as this adorable angel and she would do anything for the man she loves.

This game of deception and seduction is the tool for a much larger demonstration of character study. Stone is a strange man with strange beliefs. He goes into the core of his being and as anyone with time to serve, he eyes upon religion. He reads through the predominant ones unimpressed and finally a pamphlet religion or cult gets his attention. It has those weird names curious enough to invite for a read but ludicrous enough to stay away from it. Stone immerses himself into it. He reads the book and his catharsis is the key to the movie. We begin guessing on this. Is he still in the game of messing with the boring and hating life of Jack or does he really sees himself as this man completely at peace? This act keeps us hanging and so it does towards Jack.

Jack as thoroughly expected falls for Lucetta. Lucetta is the kind of woman you cannot say no to because you might feel like denying a delicious candy to a sweet kid. More than the need for Jack to want her, it is the idea of him trying to please her makes her the perfect woman. Jack has been a bad husband and he does not even have a shred of regret or remorse about it. He does not love his wife. She is merely there for Jack to have this illusion of marriage to satisfy himself of that feeling to do something in this life as a part of process.

Every character in this film does things because they believe in their nature. They begin as an act and soon cannot continue that to follow who they are or may be it is still part of the game. Stone, Jack, Lucetta and Madylyn are not elements of a plot but people representing our feelings and reservations to this leading of life. Religion is used as a tool or more so as a character in between these people. It is not posed as good or bad and used for its nature as it does with the people in the film. That makes “Stone” something unique and stands out of the films coming out now a day.

While there is no reason to not expect the charms of Norton and De Niro doing their best, Milla Jovovich is the real winner in this film. Her beauty is explicitly mentioned and employed in making these people do things they want to out of their character. Jovovich is more than convincing in giving this basket case of a character who is absolutely stunning on the outside but comes with a baggage you do not want to hold. Ultimately John Curran’s film on the screenplay of Angus MacLachlan is the kind of film we have been missing a while which takes regular plots and makes a spin out of it to present not alone characters to ponder but to ponder ourselves of the very behaviour we go through in our life. “Stone” may not be fast paced or gripping or clever but it has a real property to it which is to make its audience take a look at themselves in the mirror and think purely for who they are.

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