Rated R for strong sexuality and violence, and pervasive language, 105 minutes
"Stone" is an unconvincing, flat drama
You'd think a film with two well-respected actors such as Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton would be more energetic and believable, but their new movie, "Stone," a drama and sexual triangle involving a prisoner, his parole officer and the prisoner's wife, is bland, implausible, downbeat and just hard to buy into. Sure, there are moments of acting brilliance with a couple of hefty interchanges between DeNiro and Norton, but the rest of it is a forgettable tale of redemption and grace.
Parole officer Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro) has only a few weeks left before retirement and wishes to finish out the cases he's been assigned. One of his cases is Gerald "Stone" Creeson (Edward Norton), a convicted arsonist up for parole. Jack is initially reluctant to indulge Stone in the coarse banter he wishes to pursue and feels little sympathy for the prisoner's pleads for an early release. Seeing little hope in convincing Jack himself, Stone arranges for his wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) to seduce the officer, but motives and intentions steadily blur amidst the passions and buried secrets of the corrupted players in this deadly game of deception.
"Stone" is a stark, overly earnest yet well-acted drama about forgiveness and faith that is in need of a better script. DeNiro and Norton do their best to overcome the heavy-handed, contrived script (Angus MacLachan of "Junebug") and direction (John Curran of "The Painted Veil") that audiences will have trouble relating to. It's baffling why DeNiro's character, so close to retirement, would screw things up royally for himself and those around him. And miscast action star Jovovich ("Resident Evil") throws the film off considerably, she is simply not in the league of the rest of the cast. Watch for Frances Conroy ("Six Feet Under") in the movie's most believable and sympathetic role, as the put-upon wife of DeNiro's character.
Norton overracts but is still worth watching, and he and a low-key DeNiro have a few decent scenes together that pepper the earnest, slow-moving film. "Stone's" messages of redemption and faith are worthy, but the film is otherwise forgettable and a disappointment considering the talent.