In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_large_20ut2u5dmgl6szdu0adaq8u5zoc

The Interview

Opportunities at rich satire flatten out into Hangover dude-dope-doodoo jokes, where the premise is that there’s nothing funnier than watching over-privileged grown men act out…

Thumb_american_sniper

American Sniper

American Sniper proves the dictum “never count an auteur out” by proving itself as Eastwood’s strongest directorial effort since 2009's underrated Invictus pretty much right…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Stone

Stone Movie Review
  |  

"Stone" has Robert De Niro and Edward Norton playing against type and at the top of their forms in a psychological duel between a parole officer and a tricky prisoner who has his number. Norton plays Gerald Creeson, imprisoned for his role in a crime that resulted in the murder of his grandparents and the burning of their house. De Niro is Jack Mabry, who plays everything by the book to protect himself from a dark inner nature.

De Niro is an old hand at playing inner demons. In "Raging Bull," his classic weakness was jealousy. Here it is anger, which perhaps leads to lust. The film opens with a younger Jack Mabry enacting a terrifying scene with his young wife and infant. Years later, they are still married, in a loveless gridlock based on passive aggression. He does nothing "wrong." It is his duty to stay married. His wife, Madylyn (Frances Conroy), seems to be hunched against blows that never come. He mechanically sips whiskey and stares at the TV, the wall, anything.

It's time for his retirement. He could pass his case load on to his successor, but no: He will do his duty to the last detail. That includes handling a parole plea by Creeson, who is very smart, an emotional manipulator, whose wife, Lucetta (Milla Jovovich), is such a woman that such a man might use and be used by. Creeson senses that Mabry, the duty-bound straight arrow, might be vulnerable to temptation. Lucetta is smart enough to try, not a bold seduction, but a mental game in which Mabry essentially seduces himself.

This is a process which cannot be dispatched in a neat prison caper. It involves plotting about personalities. Lucetta has a key role in finding and exploiting an avenue through Mabry's defenses. What does Creeson think about the possibility she will have sex with Mabry? What does he think about her sex life in general? Is her promiscuity useful to him? Does she know it? Apart from whatever she does, she loves her husband without reserve, which is peculiar because he doesn't seem to deserve it, but then you never know.

"Stone" could have been some sort of a procedural, a straightforward crime movie, but it's too complex for that. It is actually interested in the minds of these characters, and how they react to a dangerous situation. De Niro is so good at playing a man who has essentially emasculated himself because of fear of his anger, so that sex and anger may be leashed in precisely the opposite way, as in "Raging Bull." And Norton, the puppetmaster — it may not even be freedom he requires, but simply the pleasure of controlling others to obtain it.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Dear Angelina: Thoughts on "Cleopatra"

A letter to Angelina Jolie about the casting of her upcoming take on "Cleopatra."

The Ten Best TV Programs of 2014

The best television programs of 2014.

Roger Moore's Best: "The Spy Who Loved Me"

An FFC comments on Roger Moore's best James Bond film, "The Spy Who Loved Me."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus