Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stone; Grade C


Stone (2010)

Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Mila Jovovich; Director John Curran.

I love Edward Norton, and he does not disappoint in this movie. He is an almost-crazy convict pleading with his parole officer (De Niro) for early release. His hyperactive delivery, just barely under control, is electrifying. It is as good a performance as he has ever given.

De Niro shows the cynical, burned out prison employee, just a month from retirement. He deftly conveys his tiredness, confusion, and vulnerability, right alongside his trademark “tough” persona. Jovovich also performs well, although her character doesn’t make much sense, so it is hard to tell what she is trying to convey. She is the wife of the prisoner and tries to seduce the parole officer to affect his decision. She only gets stereotypical lines to speak. She has aged well since I last saw her as God, in The Fifth Element. Of course she doesn’t look as good as she did then, but nobody could.

Despite the phenomenal acting by the two men, especially Norton, the movie doesn’t go anywhere. There’s no prison break, no character development, no tricky developments. It’s just talky, talky, talky. Norton wins early release, then De Niro changes his mind, but it’s too late, so la dee dah, he just retires anyway. It is difficult to understand why a major movie, with a major budget, and with such star power could not afford a couple of savior writers, or why some producer did not see the thing drifting. Hollywood is a world where common sense does not hold much weight.

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