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Rather than "convince," the wily Norton is, actually, trying to "manipulate" DeNiro into writing a favorable assessment. He even goes so far as having his beautiful, off-the-wall wife (Milla Jovovich) seduce the corrections official in order to accomplish that.
Though Angus McLachlan's screenplay sometimes tends to meander, it is populated with a quartet of fascinating multi-dimensional characters, none of which are particularly likable, yet all who are seeking some sort of spiritual enlightenment.
DeNiro, in a loveless marriage (to Frances Conroy), finds that his church going cannot help him avoid his darker impulses, while Norton, after he witnesses a fellow prisoner being murdered, claims to have had a religious epiphany. The operative word here is "claims," because we're never quite sure if he's telling the truth or if this apparent change is simply a ruse to get what he wants.
What makes STONE so compelling is its performances. DeNiro, in one of the most complex roles he has had in years, plays a man fighting the evil within him, while Norton utilizes his unique talent to bring to life a chameleon-like sociopath. Though she does not have a lot to do, Ms. Conroy is brilliant as the mostly silent, religious wife who has bargained away her life out of fear.
Certainly Ms. Jovovich, cast as the bold, sexy wife who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, delivers the most colorful and surprising performance.Read more ›
I believe great cinema works best as a mirror. This describes 'Stone'; not all viewers will see the same story. Some will interpret Norton as a lying sociopath, while I saw him as a man who maintains the upperhand through real--though accidental--spiritual enlightenment. Actually, guilt and enlightenment are the two main undercurrents in the characters' stories. Norton seeks his enlightenment through a religion that helps him to shut his fast mouth and listen; De Niro seeks escape from his "honest and upright" lifestyle through sexual enlightenment. De Niro's life dissolves while Norton's evolves, and the process is nothing short of compelling. You may not expect the end result.
Some interesting sidebars: The religion Norton seeks out is referred to as "Zuckangor: The Religion of the Light and Sound of God," startlingly similar to Eckankar (which I was recently and coincidentally introduced to in a local bookstore). The soundtrack reflects this religion, so listen close for slowly building tones that indicate important moments in character development. Also on this note, watch Norton's hair.
The acting is incredible (I was surprised by Jovovich, too!), the cinematography is thought-provoking, and the story is beautiful. I agree with the reviewer that thinks this movie will age well.
The film impressed me so much with its content by tackling real, but not so obvious, fundamental issues within society. Religion vs. unconventional knowledge of the same faith, faith issues, core beliefs as well as core being, conformity, inner demons, restraint, conservatism, desire, motivation, vulnerability, temptation, technological hazards, alternative healing, inner peace, etc. The list goes on!
Not all movies need to be systematic spectacles that support the bourgeoisie agenda. This movie was made to grab your attention, and to make you think.
The movie leads you to believe that you know and understand all the characters involved but they go different directions as the movie goes along. It does a pheonominal job of progressing its characters and revealing more and more about who they were and who they are becoming.
With guys like Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton and a superbly underated and fearless actress Milla Jovovich, STONE is an outstanding character study and may hit home with a lot of people who could be going through life in an unhappy marriage or living life without hope. It is impossible to give too much insight without giving away important elements to the story. The story elements and plots changes are so subtle they don't actually hit you until the afterfact, which is brilliant.
I'm afraid that STONE has a lot of machinery and mechanics going on, only to drive to nowhere. Or maybe that's the whole point. Maybe it is supposed to go to nowhere because that's the whole message that looms over the movie from the opening sequence to the finale. Jack lives a soulless existence and he can't escape. Unfortunately, that message also leaves an empty feeling with the audience and makes STONE just an average movie experience.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Strange movie with a strange ending. I really expected more with De Niro and Norton headlining.Published 14 days ago by Top Dog
Let's take Edward Norton (Stone), put him in a jail situation, make him look -at least superficially- and act black. Read morePublished 2 months ago by By CJs Pirate
A great film that for some reason didn't receive much attention - great acting by all.Published 2 months ago by Isabel Betancourt
Could have been great. Instead plummets straight to the bottom of the Born Again Christian radio trash can, clutching an incomprehensible story and a soundtrack full of machine... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Johnny Travers