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Stone: Sometimes Bad People Do Bad Things

by admin October 22, 2010 12:31 pm
Stone: Sometimes Bad People Do Bad Things

It's always tough when you come across a movie in which there's no one to root for. Sometimes you find yourself rooting for the least insufferable of all of them, or, more often, hoping that all of the characters die in a bus accident, but usually you tend to gravitate towards the most charismatic and entertainingly cruel of the bunch. And in this particular movie, that's Stone, Edward Norton's cornrowed convict, who displays both willful ignorance and deadly cunning in his attempts to earn himself an early parole. Norton has always loved his accents, and his streets-of-Detroit delivery is funny at first, then sad, then just plain evil. The story of how he gets from here to there doesn't have a lot of twists in it, although it meanders quite a bit, but it serves to show off the new, entertaining character he's created.

Stone's parole officer is Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro), who we learn right off the bat is a bit of a bastard. In flashback (as played by Dollhouse's resident mimic Enver Gjokaj), we see that he essentially blackmailed his wife into staying in their loveless marriage by threatening their daughter's life. Thirty years later, not much has changed, except that his wife (Frances Conroy) is a broken shell of a woman, who lives only for the Bible and her jigsaw puzzles. And Mabry, who's on the verge of retirement, seems to be a by-the-books stickler who doesn't brook any insolence or sex-talk from his cons. De Niro has played these emotionally distant characters before (most recently in Everybody's Fine), and his awkward interactions with the filter-free Stone are entertaining, especially once you realize how much Stone is testing him. Or is he? Norton goes back and forth between seeming genuine in his quest for redemption and rebirth and clearly looking for an angle, and I can't tell if it's a well-played game, two sides of his nature or simply inconsistency.

Jovovich, playing Stone's wife Lucetta, is the third point in the triangle, a day care center employee whom Stone points at Mabry, knowing that her good-girl looks and raw sexuality will make Mabry putty in her hands. You initially question how much Stone knows about her methods of coercion, and how much of a pawn she is in all of this, but Jovovich plays the part differently depending on who she's with and what the scene hopes to accomplish. She succeeds in ensnaring Mabry, despite his button-down attitude and general self-loathing, and also in tipping off Mrs. Mabry that something weird is going on, driving her deeper into her misery. Conroy doesn't really have too much to do other than look defeated, but she's a somber presence in the background, and she's the only thing in the movie that says there are consequences to the game that's being played. Otherwise, it's just a standard love con, pulled by two bad people on a third, that doesn't really do too much to change up the story besides attempt to elevate it with a lot of talk about hearing God's plans for people. Although it would have been nice to, y'know, see it.

Did you see Stone? Let us know what you thought below, then see De Niro's least Oscar-worthy performances!

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