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Someone dropped the ball....
stefgrig12 January 2011
De Niro , Norton and Jovovich . Quite the cast I'd say , but thats all there is to it .

The start is really interesting , both De Niro and Norton giving top notch performances . But then everything is lost as the movie looses focus and struggles to define itself . What starts of as a thriller goes nowhere trying to answer existential questions . No character is developed enough , the background stories clumsy and incomplete and thats in my opinion what killed this movie . No cohesion and a weak ending is the coup de grace .

Edward Norton is one of my favorite actors , so is De Niro . Im so disappointed that this didn't work out .
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Unclear moral to the Story
danielsummers5197 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Well after watching this film, i was left a bit confused really. Half of me was saying "there is something meaningful in this story" and the other half of me was saying "this story sucks, it had no relevant meaning to......anything".

The film starts with Robert De Niro's character threatening his wife to kill their daughter if she leaves him. Then it immediately fast forwards 20-30 years with his wife and him together meaning that his threat worked and she stayed with him.

Enter Stone (aka Edward Norton). Stone wants to get out of prison. He was convicted of aiding murder by burning his grandparents house (and his dead grandparents).

De Niro works in the jail house as an "approval of release" guy. Basically if he thinks someone has been rehabilitated, then he writes his report to his superiors and they decide whether or not to release someone.

Stone and De Niro get talking and Stone desperately wants to get out of prison, so he sends his wife to De Niro. She basically seduces De Niro and he ultimately writes the approval.

In the mean time, Stone keeps talking with De Niro, and he finds a religion that basically makes his desperation go away. Somewhere along the lines, the tables turn, Stone is freed, and De Niro is now having a bad time with his life.

The result is that he loses nearly everything, his wife hates him and he has no job and no friends.

Now this is the point of the story i don't think made any impact at all. You have a hard working guy who works all his life that made a mistake with his wife (and his daughter). Then you have a convicted criminal who burnt his grandparents and spent time in jail.

By the end of the film, it seems like you are made to want to like Stone and want to hate De Niro.

I get it. I really do. I get what they were trying to do with the film - Two people did two separately morally wrong acts. One of them was sent to jail, the other spent his life working.

I just don't see the point of trying to make the convicted criminal out to be the good guy, and the hard worker out to be the bad guy. Pointless. It just didn't work.

De Niro and Norton gave very good performances, as did the rest of the actors and actresses, but the plot of the film just sucked. Big time. It barely made it clear what the point of the film was, and the point it was trying to make just wasn't.......right.
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A Vegetarian Tuning Fork
ferguson-624 October 2010
Greetings again from the darkness. Psychological Thrillers have long been my favorite genre of film. The best ones cause us to examine our own thoughts while analyzing the actions of others we probably don't quite understand. Unfortunately, most scripts fall short in complexity and stimulation, and leave us with a half-empty character study. Director John Curran (The Painted Veil) and writer Angus MacLachlan (the superb Junebug) offer up a just-miss.

Robert DeNiro plays a parole officer on the brink of retirement. He is the guy that lives and works by the book to suppress his inner demons of which we get a glimpse in the film's opening. Despite the horror, he and his wife stay married for decades ... the relationship is built on a false worship of scripture and plenty of nerve-deadening booze. DeNiro decides to finish out his current files, one of which belongs to Edward Norton. He is an 8 year convict, serving a sentence for a crime that ended with the death of his grandparents.

The real fun begins when Norton enlists his schoolteacher wife, played by Milla Jovovich, to invade DeNiro's cold facade. So really what we have is: DeNiro trying not to feel anything, Norton trying to pull one over on DeNiro either by himself or with his wife, and Jovovich trying desperately to obey her husband while playing evil mind and body games with DeNiro. This is the point I like to call "the table is set".

Unfortunately, none of these story lines really go deep. The best seems to be Jovovich and DeNiro, but even that falls short of real grit. So much potential here and the actors all seem up for anything. It's just the script lets them off easy.

Frances Conroy is excellent as DeNiro's wife whose had her soul locked away. We never really get the full scoop on the Norton/Jovovich connection, but by the end, that doesn't seem to matter. Is the film watchable? Yes. Could it have offered more deliciously evil interaction between these characters? Absolutely.
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Slow Drama With Awesome Actors
thpgmc6 November 2010
I have never heard of this movie until it came to my local theater. With a A-list star line up such as DeNiro, Norton and Jovovich how could this movie miss. I was wrong. It did. Those who appreciate great acting in a movie won't be disappointed. (Did you ever see a movie Edward Norton was in that he wasn't absolutely great..well, maybe a couple that he may have did for the just the His absolute best was "American History X") The movie itself moved along a pace that one keeps looking at his/her watch waiting for the ending. And the ending, again, is the latest Hollywood sucks. Storyline was interesting but never got you interested to a point where one found it entertaining. This was a 98% dialog movie. You could be listening to this entire movie and never watch the video portion and understand the entire script. I am a big fan of Norton and Jovovich but this movie I could have passed on.
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Disappointing, genre-confused story
SaMoFilmGuy16 October 2010
Filmmaking 101 has a rule; wait, Art 101 has a rule: Know your genre. A drama can have comic relief, but that works only in the framework of the genre that's been established. Comedies can have their dramatic, emotional moments, but if they then turn into dramas, audiences are confused and disappointed. If a screenwriter and director can't even tell their story competently within the confines of the genre they first set up, their movie will fail.

Yes, Stone is well acted. So what? Do you go to the movies to see good acting class exercises? If so, check this movie out. Norton and De Niro are entertaining, early on at least, and there's sharp dialog they have to work with (how else could they do their jobs? Don't you love people who praise the acting without acknowledging the script?)

But the story – the real reason most of us venture out to see a film – in Stoner is a mess. The movie starts off essentially as a thriller. The plot sets up a con working a con, with his sexy wife, on a prison case officer. But after putting the movie is thriller mode the movie then tries to be a drama about the meaning of life and presence of God. The movie tries to turn its main plot with the wife into a subplot, and then pretend that fun, salacious venture wasn't really what the movie wanted to deal with. No, let's talk about the meaning of life.

Stone, then, is a disappointment. Even as a drama it fails: the story dissipates into ambiguity with regard to the final action. POVs have jumped around all throughout the movie but in not showing us the final resolution between Stone and his wife, the whole fulcrum of the movie is left blank. As for the transformation of Stone – something Norton tries to act by occasionally calming his voice and widening his eyes – it's unbelievable, not fully formed or demonstrated and, like the rest of the movie, a pretentious attempt to take a fun dime-store novel's story and make it profound.

Don't waste your time or money with this one. If you have to see it, wait for video. The movie is shot in TV-like close-ups for the most part and it will play just as well there.
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"Stone" The overlooked film of the year
Dexter2218 January 2011
When reading the ratings and reviews of this film I believe that some viewers went in expecting something different. I can fully understand that it wasn't for everyone. The film surprised me as to how non typical it was in its plotting but it was the best character study in a long time.

Jack(Deniro) is about to retire but requests that he can finish his final convicts paroles. Stone(Norton) is one of those convicts. Stone starts as a character who wants out of prison but not for the reasons a parole officer would want. The plot is seemingly straight forward in its setup. Mila Jovavich gives a wonderful performance, most notably because the audience is never really clear on which direction she is taking in her motivation. Its not a trait to make her more of a suspenseful character, its to show how one dimensional her relationship really is with Stone.

The essential plot setup is Jovavich and Stone decide on a plan to seduce Jack so that the parole is a must. The problem is that once this starts, Stone begins to experience change. As does Jack. I will not go into it much more. The film relies on the characters emotions rather than intense cat and mouse games. The film sets the audience to follow the "good guy" (Deniro) but it challenges the audience later to decide really who to trust.

The most interesting aspect is that Jack is content when listening to Stone's problems but when Stone begins to change, Jack is not alright with it. The years of holding back his darkness cannot stay contained when he is not judging others.

The film is definitely one to be analyzed. This could be why the reception is severely mixed. It had a profound effect on emotion. No specific type except dread and in some cases, familiar motives.

The film cannot be reviewed without a depth of character discussion, so in this case check the film out. Just do not expect typical suspense thrillers Hollywood has given. Ignore the rating until you view it yourself. And if nothing seems to get your interest, just expect great performances for Deniro, Jovavich, and Norton.
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A good story made up for by phenomenal acting
QuickFlixster29 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see Stone earlier today for an advance screening as Ed Norton is promoting the film at my school next week. Honestly I had absolutely no idea what this film was about going in. The marketing just flew over my head I suppose. I just knew who was acting in it.

Stone centers around Jack Marby(played by Bobby D, a welcome sight that he isn't in a Meet the... movie), a parole board officer who does preliminary interviews on convicts who are approaching their hearings. His character has a dark past we're alluded to in an all to short opening flashback, and he is something of a dead individual who is absolutely done dealing with people lying and manipulating him to get the parole board to let them go. We meet him as he nears retirement and wraps up his last inmates.

This last inmate is convicted arsonist "Stone" played by Ed Norton who is trying to manipulate Jack into letting him free, even if it means having his gorgeous wife Lucette (Milla Jovovich) pull some strings from the outside.

What follows is a great character drama, and the acting in it is phenomenal. It really is. Milla Jovovich stands out the most I think with her character who has a lot to do. I'd personally give her an Oscar nod. Truly though, this is some great acting. De Niro is perfect as the strung out officer, and Norton plays the convict expertly who can express a wide range of emotions and display many motivations.

My complaint with the film is that the audience is left wanting more from the story, and not in a good way. We have a short opening flashback of Jack, which shows a disturbed and violent man, that I an all the others who saw it thoroughly enjoyed. But they never came back to that. It presented some interesting back story and hinted a lot, but there is no pay off.

That being said, that is my only complaint. I think that the acting here was truly great, and the story might be a bit straightforward, was still thoughtful and pensive and entertaining to watch unfold.

I had no expectations, but I thought it was very well done. There was also great editing and sound design, which you'll notice early on.

All in all, a good character piece that carries a weak story that leaves you wanting more. There is a lot to enjoy and take in as Lucetta and Stone work on getting him out of prison. Very solid film. Not perfect, but solid.
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Made my eyelids as heavy as stones
Gordon-118 January 2011
This film is about a parole officer who is about to retire. He works on whether an arsonist should be released or not, which leads to undesired consequences.

"Stone" sounds like a crime thriller on paper, but it just what it is not. It is so slow moving, that the first seduction by Milla Jovovich happens forty minutes into the film. Just when the seduction subplot starts to pick up, suddenly the film becomes religious. Then suddenly the wife has gone crazy. The plot is all over the place, lacking in focus and clarity. It cannot decide whether it wants to be a thriller or drama. As a result, "Stone" is so boring, literally making my eyelids as heavy as stones.
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An interesting film, grows on you
economically_deficient23 October 2010
Going to the theater, my expectations of "Stone" were rather typical of any thriller produced nowadays. Reading the (somewhat misleading) synopsis and looking through the cast, I couldn't set my hopes up to anything far beyond "ordinary thriller with a decent cast that probably won't outdo a potentially blunt story".

Keep in mind: this is NOT a thriller, at least in the conventional sense of the word. It's a heavy drama with extremely minimal undertones of suspense.

The basis of the story is quite simple (read the synopsis), but the majority of the film's focus is in its character study. This is where the actors seriously shine. That seems to be the issue with most of the negative responses the film received. Yes, it is slow paced. Yes, there's a lot of religious jargon thrown around. Yes, it is quite the anti-climactic film. But isn't that the point? De Niro, who I haven't seen in anything memorable after Jackie Brown (okay, I'll exclude The Good Shepherd), is marvelous as the underplayed Jack Mabrey. The subtle nuances he gives to a character so burned out of work, marriage -sidenote: Frances Conroy was amazing-, and life in general (the speech he gives at his brother's funeral in the beginning comes to mind) are nothing short of astonishing. I can't stress on how great the performance was, De Niro has definitely gone back on track.

Edward Norton is equally terrific. I could go on and on about his perfect use of mannerisms, facial gestures, and especially the accent to formulate an interesting character. What I found interesting, and fortunately detracted any notions of the film being one-sided religious crap, was the contrast between Jack and Stone's religious beliefs/endeavors; Mabrey, for instance, sitting in the porch with his disturbingly delusional wife, discussing religion and the existence of God, while shunning its very purpose during situations of danger and conflict (the seduction, and another scene towards the end which I won't spoil). Stone, on the other hand, a misguided delinquent with strange views of death, forms an epiphany on the purpose of his existence at a more realistic - another good word is unconstitutional - level during his stay in prison, confusing the hell out of everyone due to his inability of expressing it on a more intellectual basis. This probably makes one very lucky case of ignorance being bliss.

The biggest surprise, however, was Milla Jovovich. I honestly did not see that coming from her at all. Her previous attempt in handling a serious role in ".45" only came off as an attempt, with clunky overacting that I guess can be forgiven due to the frigging horrible writing and direction of that film. But she does extremely well here as Stone's wife, the sexy seductress with a personally agonizing struggle of commitment. With her loyalty to Stone becoming blurred through the sexual encounters with other men and her general flirtatious attitude, it was mesmerizing to see Jovovich pull it off so well. She was simply dynamic in this film.

As the credits started rolling, I could hear many people in the theater ranting about how their time has been wasted. Lots of "what the hell?" came up, too. I'll admit that it came off as a surprise to how it just abruptly ended, but I eventually managed to appreciate the artistic integrity of the film. One reviewer here commented: "Stone is well acted. So what? Do you go to the movies to see good acting class exercises?" I can't put myself to agree with this, the film's got far more that just "acting class exercises". It is a sharply written, well directed film that I plan on watching again.

It sure got me thinking, and that seems to be what many others don't expect anymore.
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Pretentious and Slow, Not a Thriller
gavin69429 January 2011
A prison psychologist (Robert DeNiro) has the final interview of his career, with a man called Stone (Edward Norton). Things get more complicated when Stone starts finding religion and Stone's wife (Milla Jovovich) uses her charms to influence the psychologist.

Other reviews have called this film "pretentious" and I am going to follow their lead. I feel like the story was going to go somewhere and just did not go there, or the writer had a message to share with us, but it was either missed or not as big as I expected. So, maybe pretentious is a harsh word, but until shown otherwise, I am going to go with it.

My other big problem with the film is that it is clearly called a "thriller" by pretty much everybody, and I do not know how that was placed on it. There are no thrills to this film. Suspense maybe, tension maybe... but no real thrills. It is a pretty tame film, more a drama than anything.

I feel that the film tries to explore spirituality and fails. There is a background of church radio, Stone's search for understanding, and some Bible passages... but I was waiting for it to come together and it really just did not ever do it. There was no firm Christian or anti-Christian message. There was some talk of morality, but it was very jaded.

DeNiro gives a great performance, Norton's is not top-notch (I never really believed he was what he appeared to be). Milla is tough to pinpoint. Some have called her performance "raw", but I think that is just a polite way of saying she gets naked. She plays her character well, but it is a shame to see her so dumb-down when she can play such strong, independent women.

I think this film meant well, and they gave it a good shot, but it just fell short in a bunch of places. The performances were not what I wanted to see, the story has enough holes that I do not feel it is complete or tells a story that goes somewhere. In the end, I felt empty inside. Whatever I was supposed to get out of this, I did not get.
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I wish I got a story rather than messed up characters and a meaningless climax
napierslogs16 November 2010
"Stone" is a messed up film. I would like to say that I don't know what the story was about, but that's not really true as it was a very simplistic plot. Edward Norton is a convicted criminal up for parole, overseen by parole officer Robert De Niro. It's not so much that the story is hard to understand, more so that nothing actually happens.

It's dialogue-heavy as Norton philosophizes his way to freedom, and it's supposed to be character-rich as we watch De Niro try to remain sane as both Norton and his wife Milla Jovovich work their angles on him. But these are just messed up characters that I knew less about at the end than I did at the beginning. The film has clear problems when the only somewhat likable character is the guiltless criminal Norton. But I would say it's bigger problems are with the fact that it's supposed to be a thriller, but all you have is De Niro and Norton jabbering back and forth until nothing is clear and very little of consequence or action occurs. There is even a religious undertone to the whole film, but I have no idea what they were trying to say with that.

I'm sure De Niro and Norton deliver great performances as they always do, but when their characters are poorly written and make no sense, you can't watch a film for the acting. The director was overly concerned with detail, framing every scene and adding nuance to each shot, which is great in some films, but in "Stone", it would have served him better to just try and tell a story from beginning to end.
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yes, ed norton has a cornrows
TheGOLDENWALRUS16 October 2010
Deniro and Norton, back together again. Stone's first two acts are great. You're intrigued, it's unpredictable, and interesting. But the third act leaves you confused and almost unaffected by the story at the end. Stone (norton) is up for parole and wants to get out. Why not throw his sex-crazed wife (jocovich) in front of Jack's (Deniro) feet. But one of these three is starting to see life under a new life. How will this play out? Norton was great but nothing spectacular. Will remind you of his primal fear days. But what makes his performance so good is how he makes his character so likable considering the ridiculous offensive lines that come out of his mouth.

I don't think they went far enough with Deniro's character. It wasn't written well enough. It starts off with a flashback on his broken relationship with his wife and what extremes he goes to keep her. But this ins't really paid off well in the film.

Interesting film. Not predictable. Good performances. Less than mediocre writing.

My verdict B/C
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Excellent acting
moux29 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The plot of the film is not very interesting. It could easily be the most boring film in the world, but it isn't. De Niro, Norton, Jovovich, one of the best actors in the world made watching this film experience of the first class. De Niro plays a guy at the end of his active life, weeks or months before the retirement. This is the time where he will realize that his whole life was a lie, told million of times, learned at school, thought at the church. Lie that says work hard, be men, don't have feelings. Jack (De Niro) is a stone in this film, until he meets Stone (Norton). Norton's character seems the easiest, a guy who wants to get out of a prison. His change seems also shallow, change initiated by wanting to get out. But by the end of the film he's growing up. In last acts where his parole is secured he is taking responsibility for his actions that got him to prison. With no regret but with understanding. He is the winner in this film. Mila. I think it was my first time seeing Mila in a non zombie film, and I want to say magnificent, her play was magnificent. In the film, she is sweet, she is cute, she is extremely sexy, she is happy, she is seductive, she is intelligent, she is dangerous (when she comes to Jack's house) and she's depressed (at the very end). Lucetta (the character she played) is a very complicated women, but also full of energy. Mysterious too. She can do anything for her husband Stone, but is she doing this for him or for herself? This is a question that hasn't been answer in the film. The viewer will have to live with that. great film.
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That Rare Film That Gives You a Fresh, Different and Challenging Experience
jzappa5 November 2010
Norton plays Gerald Creeson, incarcerated for his part in a fire connected to the slaying of his grandparents. De Niro is Jack Mabry, who behaves and works on the nose to keep himself from bleak basal personality trends. He's a dedicated Christian prison P.O. outrun by the decades of deceit he's heard from offenders, always swearing they're innocent, they're sorry, they've found God. He maintains the ever-weakening scaffold with an inexhaustible watercourse of fire-and-brimstone talk radio and a few whopping bourbons between dinner and bed.

De Niro's a veteran at playing characters who obsessively struggle to compensate for debilitating inadequacies. Here it's rage, which perchance brings about lust. Unflinching and talented director John Curran and shrewdly insightful writer Angus MacLachlan's spare, melancholy drama opens with a younger Mabry playing out a shocking scene with his young wife and baby. Years later, they're still married, in a forsaken bottleneck anchored in interpersonal obstruction. He does nothing "immoral." It's his obligation to remain married. His wife Frances Conroy, whose understated performance stabs you in the heart, looks stooped against swipes that never come. But Mabry just keeps on unconsciously nursing whiskey and gaping at the TV, the wall, whatever.

It's time for his retirement. He could forward his case load on to his legatee, but no: He'll fulfill his responsibility to the final T. That involves managing a parole plea by Creeson, who's dreadfully clever, an emotional conspirator, whose wife Lucetta is such a woman that such a man might exploit and be exploited by. Creeson intuits that Mabry, the obliged square-shooter, might be susceptible to certain inducements. Lucetta is sharp enough to undertake, not an intrepid come-on, but a psychological enterprise in which Mabry more or less does the tempting himself.

This is a scenario which cannot be organized into a tidy prison thriller. It entails maneuverings as regards not just behavior, but the messily impalpable hidden drives behind it. Mabry spots in Creeson all the treacherous whims he fears in his own id. Mabry's fiction about himself is that he's a virtuous man, committed to responsibility. However, through that prologue, we know he's in systematic denial about his own devastating compulsions. Lucetta has a crucial part in unearthing and stage-managing a path through Mabry's resistances. How does Creeson feel about the prospect that she'll get carnal with Mabry? How does he feel about her sex life by and large? Is her lechery handy to him? If so is she aware? Stone could've been the standard genre sequence of technical detail, a clear-cut crime movie, but it's too intricate for that. It's truly keen on the psyches and inner lives of these characters, and how they greet a precarious state of affairs, a three-way personality study, as each participant plans, responds and develops through burden from the other two. Each personifies several contradictions, and the film keeps us speculating and paying close attention. De Niro is so uncannily realistic at playing a man who's effectively enfeebled himself owing to apprehension about his resentment, so that sexuality and rage may be harnessed in exactly the contrary way, as in some of his pinnacle characters.

As in all commanding dialogue-driven films, talk totals action, and it feels like it. The exhilaration here is incited by the vocal and physical mutualism between the uniformly riveting actors, and the dramatic characterization they're given by the sensitive camera and the drum-tight cutting. De Niro's performance is some of the most gripping work he's done in a decade, honest, emotionally alive, and a powerhouse refresher of his gift for devoting extraordinary amounts of preparation and research into a performance the nevertheless in effect feels uncannily moment-by-moment. In his agonizingly jaded domestic scenes with Conroy we see another breed of life sentence, two strangers chained together, lumbering the lingering ultimate lap. He inhabit's an unblinkingly realistic union of spiritual fatigue and shrouded malice.

Norton's Creeson exudes misleading geniality in his early scenes. We watch him think as he psychologically tilts his way through the consultations right in front of us. Then he starts to internally transform, and it's not merely his corn-rowed hair that disentangles. But the pleasant surprise is that Milla Jovovich's unpredictably bizarre pussycat Lucetta's just as captivating. As with everything in this film, she's difficult to peg, and that gives the movie its admittedly uncommon intensity. She sometimes appears like a rag doll in her husband's ruse, and conversely an eerily blissful doxy entertained by her control over men.

Stone is a fresh, different and challenging experience as each divulges a benevolent side and a malicious one. Scene after scene is a tractor pull as the disparate clique strive for control and preservation instinct. The story dwells in instability, in uncertainties that proliferate without remedy. The technique of the film's sound design is one of the most striking elements of Stone. Secondary reverberations, for example the buzzing of a bee, are drawn upon to enhance the film's intimate probing of obscure, indefinable themes.
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excellent performances in a very weak story
sinkell4 January 2011
This film has: an extremely convincing performance of nearly all of the main actors. Particularly noteworthy is Bob de Niro "comeback" after all the despicable "lati-grobman"-produced mediocre disappointing films, he finally managed to give a performance of his Golden Years. Lee Strasberg could have been proud of him here. De Niro's acting in this feature can be put in line with all his major dramatic achievements (Deer Hunter, etc). The main problem with this film is what I call the "no-story-thing". The script is so weak as if non existent. I'd like to pose the obvious questions: *Who* the de Niro's character is? What was the historic psychological dramatic crime he had committed in his younger years that made his wife wanting the separation? I am 100% sure that de Niros' character is in no way "accomplished" in the film. It is simply too inconsistent and unconvincingly odd. The same goes for Mila Jovovich character. Mila delivered here one of the best dramatic performances in her entire cinematic career, that is true. But Mila's character is also remarkably unclear, it is far too contradictory and inconsistent as well. We do not understand *why* she behaves the way she does, we do not understand what she feels about her troubled husband. If she is a psycho-prostitute or a cheap call-girl, that should have been stated more clearly. The film lacks any message, any consistent line or a well-elaborated "story". The script seems to be too poorly orchestrated. There are too many unexplained details that are altogether "too odd to be missed" and at the same time clearly do not indicate anything meaningful. Like, why the wife of de Niro's character must have "different-sized" eyes; does this "eye disease" connote something particular, or is just another accidental sloppy "oddness"? The film leads its viewer nowhere, the director has no message to tell to his viewers, and the way the movie ends only strengthens the feeling that the scriptwriter and the director simply did not know what to do with it, the ending is a CLEAR regrettable fiasco.
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Question of existence
matvej-kazin3 January 2011
Hard to review such a movie but I will try. This movie did to me what nothing else does in our society anymore and that is bringing up the question of our existence, right or wrong, God etc. And the best part is it is not trying to answer those questions but is revealing the lack of understanding of what life is in life. What seemed to look like another mediocre movie about prison and cons, come up as a great surprise of a movie. And in the end it is hard to rate it because you go through one hour and fifty something minutes with the same questions in your mind as the characters and it is just way to hard.

This movie was good.
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The rare film and a good story
ankitgoyal77 November 2010
The basis of the story is quite simple (read the synopsis), but the majority of the film's focus is in its character study. This is where the actors seriously shine. That seems to be the issue with most of the negative responses the film received. Yes, it is slow paced. Yes, there's a lot of religious jargon thrown around. Yes, it is quite the anti- climactic film. But isn't that the point? De Niro, who I haven't seen in anything memorable after Jackie Brown (okay, I'll exclude The Good Shepherd), is marvelous as the underplayed Jack Mabrey. The subtle nuances he gives to a character so burned out of work, marriage -sidenote: Frances Conroy was amazing-, and life in general (the speech he gives at his brother's funeral in the beginning comes to mind) are nothing short of astonishing. I can't stress on how great the performance was, De Niro has definitely gone back on track.
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This is possibly the worst movie ever made
jozzev9 November 2010
This is possibly the worst movie ever made. Imagine how bad it must be if I say that even though actors as Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, and Milla Jovovic are in it! It is absolutely about nothing,there's no plot whatsoever, Edward Norton plays an annoying and not very believable character, Robert de Niro a depressing and depressed old man, and Milla just flashes her tits and that's it. It's a 2 hour torture to sit down and watch this movie. It is sooo slow that you just can't help but drift off. I seriously have no idea what the point was of this totally worthless movie, why people invested money in it, and more than anything, why normally great actors choose the roll! Do not go and see this, ever!
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It's a film about religion
ritaokla19 June 2011
How do we make sense of our lives and keep going despite all the bad things that happen to us? Most people find the answers to those questions in religion, and the characters in this film line up like a rainbow of answers: Jack (DeNiro), a prison bureaucrat, is agnostic; his wife Madylyn (Conroy) is a mainline Protestant; Stone (Norton) is a convict but also a seeker who finds his answers in a New Age religion; his wife (Jovovich) is an unabashed atheist. Throughout the film, evangelical radio frequently plays in the background, another stripe in the religious rainbow.

As a miserable young Madylyn hints to the viewers in the first scene of the film, the prison setting is a metaphor of the dungeon of the soul. For these four characters, loveless marriages, life work that seems futile, and memories of violence are their dungeon walls. Jack, Madylyn, and Stone all struggle with depression. Stone's is so deep that he edges toward suicide, but he searches for answers among the religious readings in the prison library and finds one that makes sense, especially after he witnesses a brutal stabbing at a range so close that the blood spatters his own face and he sees the murdered man eye to eye.

Jack seeks pastoral counseling after church one Sunday, admitting finally that the Episcopal framework of his life has never made sense. The minister quotes the Bible to him, "Be still and know that I am God," that is, listen for the answers that God provides. Oddly, that is exactly the prescription that Stone gets from his new religion too. It teaches that "God" or Truth speaks to us through everyday noises – insects buzzing, the voices of a prison exercise yard, talk radio, or a spoken mantra – if we just listen to the universe.

Stone does listen, and he begins to change. His new hairstyle, speech, and demeanor all signal to the viewer that he is a man reborn. The prison walls within Stone's mind fall away so that by the time his parole is finally granted, it hardly matters to him anymore.

Jack, meanwhile, hears nothing in the noise of his troubled life, nor can he makes sense of what Stone tries to share with him. As his retirement nears, he grows more and more reckless. Blind to the transformation that Stone has undergone, Jack suspects that he is being played. To the end, Jack remains suspicious and fearful of Stone who has come to terms with this past and feels only gratitude toward the aging jailer.

If you are looking for a conventional action flick with good guys and bad guys, this is not it. If you want an intelligent film about how desperate people search for faith and solace, you will not be disappointed.
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Some people tell lies. Others live them.
omfgitsrohit25 November 2010
Jack Mabry while appearing to live the life of a 'good' human being is confronted with thoughts that aren't supposed to occur to such a person. He's been married for over forty years, has never broken the law and works as a parole officer trying to reform people. But what does that do to him? There isn't a soul he trusts; he's carved that way. Prison inmates are trying to keep up with him by creating an impression and get him to believe that they've turned over a new leaf. With all the experience he's had, he sees through all of it. Not for long.

Gerald Creeson better known as 'stone' is under the supervision of Jack. Empty and pointless is what he believes his life is as long as he's in prison. There's desperation to break free. He believes he deserves it. Attempting to needle the vulnerable side of Mabry by sending his sexy wife, Lucetta, to meet with him, he hopes to be released. How long could that last?

Lucetta is no femme fatale, as the trailer would have you believe. A buoyant, effusive, middle-aged nymphomaniac is what she is. Stone tells Jack that she's an 'alien'.

Madlyn, Jack's wife is like stone. Jack has threatened her before and the memory of the experience doesn't fade away. She's stuck in a loveless marriage and doesn't have the nerve to raise the issue about her 'soul being kept in a dungeon'.

There're some interesting issues raised by the film, and without being answered or taken a stand for or against, are put in front of us through the characters. Does sin come naturally to human beings? Does being physically imprisoned mean no freedom? Are we all hypocrites after all? Is it foolish to sought after the righteous path? Is there a definite righteous path? Is there a higher power watching over us and our actions?

Jack is the lead character and it's his perspective that is the focal point of the film, which is why we don't know what's happening. Like him, we don't know whether to trust the characters or not because clearly they all have their own motives. The narrative doesn't intend to spoon-feed its viewers. You have to see the film again through the eyes of each character, pay attention to their reactions and understand their motives with which you determine whether they have done what Jack believes they did, or not. This is no ordinary thriller. It's heavy. It's complex. It's an in depth character study. John Curran's real deal is in displaying these characters, how they feel. What's going on inside their heads.

Acting is first rate. Robert Deniro, a name that echoes unforgettable characters- Jake Lamotta, Travis Bicke, Jimmy Conway, Vito Corleone and a lesser known Rupert Pupkin, has shown that even at this age he's capable of doing much more than what he's been doing for the past ten years- frowning, cursing, head tilting and spastic nodding. Edward Norton, who has proved time and again that he's not merely an actor with expressions but a character artist, delivers a gritty performance. This one's nothing like his other characters. People have complained about this role being similar to Primal fear and American History X particularly because all three of them are prisoners but that's just being myopic. That's like saying Robert Deniro is not versatile because he's played only gangsters and tough guys, or even more abstract- in almost every movie of his, he's malicious. It's not what viewers choose to reduce those complex characters to, with a word or two. It's the way the characters are played. Vito Corleone and Jimmy Conway are both Italian Mafiosos but are their characters similar? Not at all. In spite of all the praise I've given these two actors, it is Milla Jovovich who steals the film. Her performance is something that I'd characterize as a combination of Karen Black in Five easy pieces and Uma Thurman in Pulp fiction. She's the soul of the film. Frances Conroy is spot on with the character. She doesn't have much screen time but when she's on screen, you see her dying within and losing hope, shred by shred.

The director, John Curran and the screenwriter, Angus Maclachlan have made an original film that works only because the actors understand its subtleties. The other elements although unable to atomize themselves on independent merit are all appropriate. The sound design is at a strangely different frequency focusing more on background noises, the score is haunting and the cinematography, I have to point out, would've really enriched the feel of the film had it been shot in black and white with low key lighting- in the realm of film noir. What's left at the end is an incomplete puzzle of a film that you're expected to finish. Stone doesn't go easy on you. It is a film of major distinction that made me feel privileged as a film viewer. For my intelligence was not just respected, but trusted.

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A excellent psychological thriller.
Epicurean0802 January 2011
It's really a shame that most people can't appreciate the depth and intelligence of this film. The actors, and mostly De Niro and Norton, gives a fantastic performance. Many reviews before speak about the story but I think that the substance of the film is the interaction among the 2 male characters. Maybe the story could go feather deep in the psych of the characters, and this is my only complain and possibly weak point of it, but the epic acting makes for it. And for the people that are frustrated because they cant see the movie as a clear thriller or drama, maybe they have to open their mind and look beyond the lines of the conformity with the conventional patterns.
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Stone sinks like a rock
Henry_Ireton8 January 2011
Staring the highly promising cast of Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, Stone is the story of a prison inmate and the relationship between himself, his wife and the parole board officer in charge of his release.

Norton is as thorough as to be expected and provides a convincing performance as the incarcerated man. De Niro is solid and dependable in his portrayal of the complex correctional officer. These two established actors are the films saving grace. The script is mediocre, the film itself drags and leave you with that familiar taste in your mouth, It's not sweet, it's not savory, its not even umami, it's one of "well that was a waste of time".

Basically it's very disappointing and to quote Shakespeare "much ado about nothing".

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The parole officer
jotix10016 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Jack Mawbry, an officer that is instrumental in granting early releases according to the United States penal system, is a man with a past. It involves his wife and a tragedy they lived years ago. Having turned to religion, and booze, they are living quietly in a suburban home. They have not much to say to one another. Jack will be retiring from the force shortly, so instead of calling it quits, he decides to stay at his desk and finish the cases he has been working until he has to go.

One of the men being considered for parole is Stone, a loose cannon. This man who is serving time for a crime involving arson, is not an easy man to deal with. He is nasty, stubborn, and has a mean streak, something that, by right, will be a strike against him. Stone sees in Jack as a man with a weakness, even though in pleading his case, the prisoner is going the wrong way.

What Stone has is Lucetta, a woman that will do anything to help him get out of prison. She is willing to do come to Jack with the offer of sex in exchange for leniency for Stone. Lucetta goes about her own way until she gets Jack to the point where she and Stone wanted him to be in the first place. Lucetta comes on to Jack in a way he cannot refuse. He has long repressed sex himself, hiding his true feelings in religion. Falling for Lucetta is the worst thing he will do, but once bitten by her youth, he is smitten forever. The subtle blackmail will have terrible consequences for Jack and his wife.

"Stone" is a film that had the potential of being better, but somehow, it did not live up to fulfill its promise. The director, John Curran, tried to give some excitement to Angus MacLachlan's screenplay, but in the end, in spite of casting two of the best actors working in films today, that potential did not translate in the finished product.

It is still not a bad film, by any means. The pairing of Robert Deniro and Edward Norton shows some excitement in the first part of the film. These two men, coming from two opposite sides of the law can still get the viewer riveted to the screen. Frances Conroy, a good actress, goes through the film in an almost sleepwalking state, part of it, because of what had happened in her youth. Mila Jovovich plays against type in a role that offers her some good opportunities to stretch artistically.
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It's a movie for a "thinking mind"
carlosemcampos22 February 2011
First of all the trailer is indeed misleading, it isn't a thriller or a fast-paced movie but it is a very good movie.

In my opinion this is a movie for a "thinking mind", it may look superficial but if you look to it closely and try to read between the lines there's a lot more to it.

Great acting job of Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton in a very envolving story. I almost gave up of the movie after I saw the 5,7 here in the voting poll but I decided to give it a try and I'm very glad I did, I believe it grows on you after you see it. It is a very "real" movie with very "real" issues and subjects.

If you like to see movies just to see action and rushing camera angles go somewhere else, but if you like to go beyond of what's in the surface make yourself a favor and watch it.
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This is a good movie
lbolton782 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
O.K. I have to say that I am surprised that a lot of viewers gave this movie a lower rating. Because I thought it was great. Maybe it is best watched on D.V.D. though.

Now with De Niro, Norton and Jovovich starring, this is a high quality cast. I thought that these three actors gave very deep performances.

De Niro was great as a Parole Officer with some serious issues. I mean at the very start of the movie he threatens his wife in a horrific fashion, which I thought set the tone for a suspenseful and slightly disturbing story line. So basically De Niro puts on a good show as a character that you can sympathize with, but who unfortunately is not necessarily a good person.

Norton comes across in an equally interesting light, as a changing character who keeps you guessing. Just the way these actors relate to each other should keep some people watching.

Jovovich shines for the camera as Norton's wife. Her character is manipulative and seductive, but also maintains some level of innocence about her. You do start to care about these characters.

And this movie offers some intense moments that will keep you guessing.

Also I thought that the other supporting characters did a great job. The parole staff in the prison and De Niro's wife were all very good. There seemed to be a personal quality about these people, like you were really getting to know how these characters were feeling.

This movie does touch on some very deep spiritual concepts, about human beings and the universe. And is surprisingly philosophical.

So even if there are a few minor flaws in the story, the interesting concepts, great acting, excellent character interaction, suspenseful atmosphere and well shot camera work should make this a drama/thriller worth watching. I know that I was impressed.
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