Our natural attraction to sin, amongst other fragile components of the human condition, is under the microscope in John Curran’s latest cinematic effort, Stone. Acting heavyweights, Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton, along with the talented Milla Jovovich, fill the roles of beaten and broken souls.
Jack Mabry, played by Robert DeNiro, is a veteran parole officer who is straight-laced, yet struggles to keep clear of his anger and temptations. Gerald “Stone” Creeson, played masterfully by Edward Norton, is a convicted arsonist with a mouth of unlimited ammo. Completing the acting trio is Milla Jovovich, inhibiting the role of Lucetta, the seductive wife of Gerald.
From the trailer, the story seems like a by-the-books procedure of a prisoner trying to con his way out of prison with the help of a femme fatale. Go into the film anticipating that story, and come out surprised about how the film escaped, and gunned out of sight of your expectations. This should be good, right? Yes and no.
This film definitely flips your mind on. It does not serve us the answers on a silver platter; it dares us to come up with our own conclusions. We constantly attempt to try and decipher these characters, and why they have their personal demons; yet, we’re led down a black hole. Some might find the beauty in basking in that unknown darkness and some might be put off.
There is one scene where static thoughts run through Jack’s head, as he is staying up late at night, gun in hand, expecting Gerald to drop by. The seductive voice of Lucetta fills his head, and a quick flash of his daughter enters his thoughts as well. That scene represents the film at its best: a study of the dark side of human nature, and how we mysteriously are all victims to that dark side. This is also fantastically displayed in the last parole discussion between Gerald and Jack. Gerald seems as though he has found redemption, but he redefines what redemption can mean. The film’s character studies are vastly interesting, but only if you are willing to invest yourself into analyzing something that you can never fully fathom.
The film is definitely a refreshing effort, but something is missing: connection. All the main characters are fully-realized, but there is little opportunity for the audience to connect with the characters. We are there to merely observe, but there’s no part where we are truly absorbed by the characters. Jack possesses a volcanic temper, with barely any positive traits displayed, and Gerald “Stone” is darkly humorous, but becomes alien because of his uninspired choices. Both Jack and Gerald have realistic qualities, but we don’t know exactly what makes them tick and we’re mostly shown their dark side.
A Serious Man
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