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70 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood (a look at the film itself)
'Stone' was not received well critically. It was marketed as a prison drama in which Norton and De Niro tensely face off. It isn't. Once you get over that fact and accept the movie on its own terms, your mind and heart can be opened by its powerful reflections.

I believe great cinema works best as a mirror. This describes 'Stone'; not all viewers will see the...
Published on January 12, 2011 by alex daniels

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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars PERFORMANCES that you'd expect
STONE is dubbed a "psychological duel", and it is. Robert Deniro plays Jack, a parole officer who holds all the cards in the life of Stone (Edward Norton) a convicted arsonist who is pleading his case to be released from prison, back into society. Stone will stop at nothing, including using his wife to manipulate Jack.

The movie leads you to believe that you...
Published on January 25, 2011 by Chris Kennison


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70 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood (a look at the film itself), January 12, 2011
This review is from: Stone [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
'Stone' was not received well critically. It was marketed as a prison drama in which Norton and De Niro tensely face off. It isn't. Once you get over that fact and accept the movie on its own terms, your mind and heart can be opened by its powerful reflections.

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.
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70 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Performances, December 31, 2010
This review is from: Stone (DVD)
Robert DeNiro plays a parole officer about to retire and Edward Norton is cast as a convicted arsonist, trying to convince him that he should get an early release from prison in this gripping "noirish" thriller from director John Curran.

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. Part bimbo and part seductress, this is one of those women of film noir who would give Barbara Stanwyck's "Phyllis Dietrichson" (DOUBLE INDEMNITY) a run for her money. And, it is also prime evidence that Ms. Jovovich is capable of doing material much more interesting than the RESIDENT EVIL franchise.

The DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment contains a "Making of" featurette.

© Michael B. Druxman
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars PERFORMANCES that you'd expect, January 25, 2011
By 
Chris Kennison (Jefferson City, Mo United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Stone (DVD)
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STONE is dubbed a "psychological duel", and it is. Robert Deniro plays Jack, a parole officer who holds all the cards in the life of Stone (Edward Norton) a convicted arsonist who is pleading his case to be released from prison, back into society. Stone will stop at nothing, including using his wife to manipulate Jack.

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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wrap my head around these negative reviews., February 15, 2012
This review is from: Stone (DVD)
This movie was great. I feel that the negative reviews were from people whose movie library consists of a lot of Van Damme, and Steven Seagal (people who don't care to strain the brain too often).

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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Completely Pointless Film, February 24, 2012
This review is from: Stone (DVD)
Milla Jovovich, Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton all give stellar performances in this totally pointless, plotless film. It is the actors alone who carry this film, because there's nothing else there. Every time the film seems like maybe it's finally going somewhere, it pulls the plug and deflates. It does this over and over again. This movie isn't about anything. There is a nihilistic nothingness at its center that is truly depressing to see. The most common line you will read about this film is that an inmate is using his wife to help con the parole officer into letting him out. Not even that basic statement is true. In fact, there is no underlying framework to this movie at all. It's filled with people that have meaningless lives, saying and doing meaningless things, and by the end of the film it's impossible to say exactly what happened or didn't happen. Edward Norton should have won best actor for his role, no contest. But the great acting is about the only good thing to say about this film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seduction in multiple forms, February 16, 2011
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This review is from: Stone (DVD)
STONE is a complex film, perhaps too complex to create the impact that the story seems to be taking as writer Angus MacLaughlin and Director John Curran seduce us into this study of manipulation, age versus youth, religion versus atheism versus spirituality, and crime in all its permutations. That is a big load of topics for one film to handle but thanks to a quartet of fine actors the film works.

Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro) is an aging parole officer at a prison who is finishing his career and preparing for retirement: being the seasoned lawman he is he requests to finish his current case load instead of passing it off to his replacement. Because of his success in his field he is asked to review the case of an arsonist called Stone (Edward Norton) who is up for early release. Stone is a foul-mouthed, sassy, wily fellow who sees no importance to Jack except as a possible path to being released from prison. The two men parlay and create boundaries that make the process seem unlikely - until Stone brings his amoral, promiscuous wife Lucetta (Milla Jonovich) into the plan. Jack has always been a monogamous husband to his evangelically oriented wife Madylyn (Frances Conroy - the film opens with a shocking scene from the early years of their marriage that sets the atmosphere for their strained family life - making the likelihood of Stone and Lucetta's plan seem unlikely.

Jack is certain that he will do a good job as a parole reviewer for Stone, but when Stone introduces the wiles of Lucetta much changes in the personality and philosophy of Jack. And while this transformation into a pawn for a deceitful plan is working Stone appears to have a spiritual experience in jail - a confusing element for everyone in the film and in the audience. How Jack is manipulated by Stone and Lucetta and the aftermath of Jack's input to the review board supplies the grit for the ending of the film with unexpected twists for all four characters.

Edward Norton, complete with tattoos and corn rolled hair, gives us a character we cannot ignore or forget at movie's end. He is astonishingly fine. De Niro, Conroy and Jonovich are equally convincing in these complex and well-drawn roles. This is a film that is at once cerebral and powerful. The manner in which director Curran uses a near constant stream of radio evangelism as the background for this film is ingenious: the payoff is excellent. Grady Harp, February 11
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I expected more...boring, depressing, waste of time, January 31, 2011
This review is from: Stone (DVD)
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First of all I would like to say that Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton are two of my favorite actor's. Both of them are very believable in their parts as I would expect from them. My problem with this movie has nothing to do with the characters or acting.

The movie was just so incredibly boring that I could hardly finish it. About half way through it I found myself wanting to turn it off. There is nothing to get excited about and really no action at all. The whole story is just a dud in my opinion. I found it to be a huge disappointment considering DeNiro and Norton are the main characters. DeNiro and Norton were both in "The Score" and that was a fantastic movie so I guess I was expecting much more.

This IS NOT a movie to watch with the kids. There is nudity and a lot of really nasty language, I mean a lot.

Another thing that bugs me is the horrible scratching background noise throughout the movie. It really gets annoying after a while. The noise is supposed to be the noise that Norton's character is hearing in his head but it really got on my nerves.

Not to mention that the ending is horrible and leaves you hanging and wondering. It's almost like the movie just stopped in the middle. At the end we were like that's it?

I know that some will certainly disagree with me but this movie was a waste of time in my opinion and I wouldn't recommend it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "The intent of the film was to leave you feeling unsettled, unsure...those are the movies that tend to stay with people.", January 30, 2011
This review is from: Stone (DVD)
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The title of this review is a quote from Edward Norton talking about the movie "STONE"...and boy oh boy, was he right.

Wow. So where do I begin? This is such a hard movie to review. While I love the main cast members of Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Milla Jovovich; this film left me with an unhealthy mix of emotions including hatred, unsettlement, disappointment, and (darn it...) admiration.

Robert De Niro plays the character of Jack Mabry, a parole officer on his 43rd year of marriage and rapidly approaching his retirement. Because of his actions, it didn't take long for me to completely despise this character. If that was the goal, De Niro should have a third Academy Award added to his list of accolades. I haven't hated a character De Niro portrayed this much since his role of Dwight Hansen in "This Boy's Life".

Edward Norton depicts the title role of Gerald "Stone" Creeson. He's on his 8th year of a 10-15 stretch for accessory to murder and arson, and he needs Jack's help to convince the parole board to grant him an early release. This character was easier to like - mainly because Edward Norton is enjoyable to watch in pretty much every film I've ever seen him in. Stone goes through gradual changes throughout the movie and we see this through his dialogues with Jack and Lucetta.

Rounding out our top three cast members is Milla Jovovich who plays Lucetta Creeson, Stoney's wife. Stone doesn't feel like he's making enough progress with Jack, so he begs Lucetta to convince Jack that he needs to be released. This is another character that I felt so much anger for as the film progressed. She starts out as a sweet school teacher with a heart of gold and soon we see her true colors: a manipulative, conniving, stalking sociopath.

Our final key player is Frances Conroy who plays Madylyn, Jack's wife. She doesn't get a lot of screen time in this movie, which is regrettable, but the scripting didn't give her much more to do than look despondent and play the dutiful housewife. There's not much else to say about her.

Each player in this production did their level best to show us people with some pretty horrific moral flaws, and this was done by some of the best actors in the business. Religion was the underlying theme behind everyone's changes, and their belief (or lack of) showed us what they could become - and we saw some VERY discomforting things.

DVD EXTRAS:

This is one bare-bones DVD. There is a "Making of" feature, but it clocks in at just over 6 minutes long. There are 2 movie trailers which run before the DVD main menu, and there are 4 more trailers under the "Also on DVD" section.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

In truth, I'm not sure how to feel about STONE. My initial reaction to this movie was one of disgust; because it was very dark and almost impossible to find a likeable character. I wanted to like it so badly!

I watched this with my friend Fey and when the movie ended, she picked up the DVD case and said only three words: "Gimme a lighter".

After thinking about it, I realized that Edward Norton was right - this movie was designed to unsettle the audience, and it succeeded at doing so. That's where my admiration comes from.

However, just because a director knows how to unsettle his audience, doesn't mean he knows how to entertain them.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars AS INTERESTING AS WATCHING A STONE, January 17, 2011
This review is from: Stone (DVD)
I hate it when they take a phenomenal actor (in this case two), put them in a movie that is supposed to feature them at their best (which it does) but that comes off as the most boring waste of time imaginable. Such is the case with STONE, the new DVD release starring Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton.

The story focuses on Jack Mabry (DeNiro), a parole officer in a large prison about to retire. Jack has been detached from life for some time. His is an existence of merely going through the motions, feeling little if anything. He begins the film this way and continues on, searching for the meaning of life.

Into Jack's world enters Stone (Norton), an arsonist convicted of torching his grandparent's house after being involved with their murder. Stone is set for release depending on the recommendation of Jack. The two have conversations in Jack's attempt to discover if Stone has been rehabilitated or not, if he possesses any sign of remorse. And in these few moments the best of the film is revealed.

At first arrogant and obnoxious, Stone undergoes a series of events that bring about an epiphany in his soul. He begins to seek out religion and life and discover himself. But as he grows in his search Jack falters. Seeking out his own answers, Jack finds hollowness inside of himself that he can't seem to fill.

While these conversations go on, Stone also attempts to play his ace in the hole by having his wife, Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) seduce Jack. The pair begin an affair slowly with Lucetta first approaching Jack to just discuss her husband's release and then slowly teasing him until he falls for her seduction. Just one more attempt and connecting with someone that Jack fails with.

Whether or not Stone is eventually released is pretty much a given answer. But the question becomes is he the same man who went in or has he truly changed? Sadly this isn't the main focus of the film which is more on Jack and how the whole event affects him.

All in all while it sounds like it might make an interesting film (and it probably did on paper) the movie is a let down. I didn't walk in expecting an action packed adventure. I didn't even expect a sexual thriller, though there is some bit of that included. I did expect a better story that didn't rely so much on distant, longing looks and drawn out still life visuals. Some directors seem to forget the term "moving pictures" means that films do indeed move. Many times this one just sits there.

A number of critics and viewers have lauded the lead actors in this film, discussing the fact that they are among the greatest ever and that this film gives them ample opportunity to flex their acting muscles. The fact is that watching them rehearse scenes from other films would make for a more entertaining movie than this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is really free and who is really imprisoned?, December 9, 2013
By 
Andrea M Jones (Farmington, MO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stone (Amazon Instant Video)
I knew from reviews before watching Stone that it was not going to be what I first expected. I would have thoroughly enjoyed a prison show-down movie, but this was an altogether different type of enjoyment. I love character studies, and the four complex characters at the heart of Stone are both thoroughly deconstructed AND remain enigmatic. No nice tidy wrap-ups either. You're left to figure through on your own if Stone (Edward Norton) is nothing more than a sociopath using all his tricks, and his wife (MIlla Jovovich), to play his parole officer(Robert DeNiro), or if there is true substance to his spiritual awakening.

Edward Norton gives another mesmerizing performance. Watch his eyes. Milla Jovovich moves into the skin of her character to be fey, childlike, calculating and demanding, erotic, devoted, and thoroughly self-serving in turns. Lucetta was indeed an "alien," a type of woman Robert DeNiro's character had never encountered, and he never stood a chance. DeNiro is entirely convincing as the closed-off Jack, and one chilling flashback provides a dark glance into his respectable, stalwart character even before we are introduced to his other weaknesses. Poor Madylyn (Frances Conroy) rounds out the two couples. Weary, alcoholic, wearing the mask of the dutiful wife to cover her soul-sickness, Madylyn is as imprisoned as Stone. She, like him, finally gains freedom while Jack and Lucetta (who would seem to embody freedom) are left trapped in their own private hells. At least with Jack one is left with a sense of some hope for him.

This is the surface story, and it can hold its own. However, as the final scene closes ask yourself this: Is the voice of God more likely to be found in the hum of a bee or the cacophony of radio preachers and badly sung hymns? .
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Stone
Stone by John Curran (DVD - 2011)
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