Director: John Curran
Writer: Angus MacLachlan
Starring: Edward Norton, Robert DeNiro, Milla Jovovich
Released: 21st February 2011
Run time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Edward Norton (never better than when he was in films like Fight Club and Death To Smoochy) takes the central role as Stone an prison inmate, convicted of arson and involved in the death of his own grandparents.
The film itself is well written and well directed. And if it seems a little straight-to-DVD for the likes of Edward Norton it’s clear that he was probably attracted to the project by the likes of Robert DeNiro who he obviously admires and has worked with before on The Score. Problem is, is that The Score wasn’t all that memorable despite Norton, DeNiro and Marlon Brando all appearing on the same bill… the best actors of their respective generations. But what attracted DeNiro to the film Stone and where did Milla Jovovich pop up from? How did she get involved? Wasn’t she busy doing the next Resident Evil film?
Norton doesn’t seem to have been on the big screen much, if at all, since the rather ill-fated (yet impressive) reboot of The Hulk. So maybe he was looking for something small and kind of Indie before heading back to the big time with another Hollywood blockbuster. He’s recently appeared in a fun little film called Leaves of Grass… it wasn’t life altering, it was another straight-to-DVD effort, but it was watchable.
Norton produces a good performance, altering his physical appearance quite a bit and taking on a regional accent of some description (I’m not sure where from) and DeNiro is good value as the prison counsellor.
Still is it just me or has his entire career seemed to go downhill since Fight Club? I mean don’t get me wrong, I think he is a fantastic actor, but does he just make bad choices? He’s been in some terrible films and also taken some terrible roles? Apparently some of it (appearing in The Italian Job for instance) was to do with contractual obligations but it can’t all be stuff that he’s being forced to do. What’s his excuse for spending an entire film behind a mask in Kingdom of Heaven which was a rubbish film anyway? Norton started his career with amazing performances in the likes of American History X and Rounders. Keeping the Faith was funny and Red Dragon was OK as far as sequels / remakes go but films such as The Painted Veil and The Illusionist were a bit dull to say the least. Mind you he did put in a cracking performance in Down In The Valley. All this while DeNiro was starting up a new career as a comedy man in the (awful) Focker films… mind you his performances in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust was brilliant!
So what about Stone the film? Well it’s passable. It’s watchable. But it’s also a bit obvious in terms of plotting – the hot wife seduces the counsellor to get her husband released early from prison on early parole.
Acting wise it’s what you’d expect – there are some great scenes with Norton and DeNiro trading verbal blows but in the end it just feels like two heavyweights just decided to get together to do a film and perhaps didn’t care which film, because surely they were offered better scripts than this. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad film and it probably easily deserved a theatrical releases over many, many other films (and it might have I’m not honestly sure if it played at cinemas or not in the US or in the UK but I certainly didn’t see it advertised), but there must have been bigger, more prestigious films that the pair could have worked together on.
Stone is a good movie that has probably deserved more recognition. Judging by the reported budget of $22m and the takings of just $8m it might have been under-marketed. Here’s hoping this review does something to increase the number of people watching it, because it’s certainly worth a look.