dir. John Curran
Robert De Niro (Great Expectations, 1998)
Edward Norton (Down in the Valley, 2005)
Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, 1997)
Frances Conroy (Shopgirl, 2005)
Sometimes you see a movie and you think you're only a little disappointed. Like, that movie wasn't awesome, but it was pretty good, but then the more you think about it, the more you realize that you've been had. That movie sucked. That movie sucked two hours of your life away and is totally unapologetic about it. That's what Stone is like.
That's also what happened when Drew Speranza and I went to see Cyrus (2010), starring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill.
They trick with the understated set design, the A-list actors, and the seemingly poignant dialogue. At first you think you don't understand it, you think it's one of those smart indie films you're going to feel better about yourself for having seen. We go into these movies wanting to be entertained. We give them the benefit of the doubt.
First of all, Edward Norton is awesome, and even here I think he takes what he is given and knocks it out of the park. His character, Stone, is a smarmy convict up for parole that has a spiritual epiphany, of sorts. I think in a later entry I'm going to have to make a list of the actors I have crushes on. In my eyes, Edward Norton can do no wrong.
Milla Jovovich, who is another favorite of mine, plays Stone's wife who might be a nymphomanic but maybe was just playing. Here's the thing, this movie was really played up as a psychological drama, but nobody was really playing mind games with anybody, there was just the sort of implication that everyone was being a bit insincere with everyone else. I mean, the wife seduces Robert De Niro's character, who is in charge of recommending Stone for parole, but she's just doing that to get her hubby out, right? I think that was pretty clear. I guess Milla also did a good job with her material, but I wish they had played her up as either more manipulative or more narcissistic or something. She wasn't fleshed out enough, the poor girl.
The symbolism, as well, was pretty in your face. I remember when I had to read The Scarlet Letter in seventh grade and they got to the part where Hester names her bastard baby Pearl, "because she came with a great price" and I exclaimed that the book was stupid and refused to have no more of it. Well, about thirty minutes into this movie Ed Norton's character says something about hearing God in the background noise and I said out loud, "Oh! I see what they're doing here," and in hindsight we could have stopped watching the movie there, because that was the most interesting point that highlighted the most interesting scene, which was the very first one. It was all downhill after that.