The trailer for John Curran‘s Stone (Overture, 10.8) makes it seem like a more-or-less conventional crime melodrama. In the midst of evaluating an apparently psychopathic convict (Edward Norton) regarding an upcoming parole hearing, a retirement-age prison counselor (Robert De Niro) succumbs to sexual favors offered by the prisoner’s scheming wife (Milla Jovovich). We all know where this is likely to go. Exposure, revenge, moral ruin, chaos.
Guess what? It goes somewhere else entirely. And I mean into a realm that, for me, is not far from the one that Robert Bresson mined in the ’50s and ’60s and early ’70s.
Update: This isn’t a “review” of Stone. The request was to hold off until it plays the Toronto Film Festival, but I called Overture publicity this morning and said “you have to relent a bit and let me say a little something.” So I ran something — a nice piece that didn’t review Stone as much as talk about certain unusual or distinctive aspects of it.
But certain reviewers have complained since the piece went up. I wasn’t told what they said but I can guess.
I’ve never in my life acted like a two-year-old when another critic ran an early impression of an upcoming film. My response has always been “gee, that sounds good, can’t wait to see it.” I recognize that sometimes a writer will riff early on this or that aspect of a film that he/she has seen and liked. It certainly happens enough. But others feel the need to be contentious. They open their mouths and out comes “waahhhh!” So I’ve taken my piece down.