Fantastic Fest: 'Stone'

Tense and provocative piece about a parole officer

Fantastic Fest: 'Stone'

The first time you see the quintessentially clean-cut Edward Norton in Stone, the effect is startling – corn rows? – but it's when he opens his mouth that the jaw really drops.

Norton's voice comes out high and thin, somewhere between a coo and reedy whine. He plays convicted felon Stone, trying to convince somebody, anybody, to let him out for good behavior. Parole officer Jack (Robert De Niro) oversees his case – it's his last one before retirement – and very quickly Jack finds himself uncharacteristically invested in Stone and his flighty, manipulative wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich).

A lot of people are raving about what a find Jovovich is here, in a role that requires far more than the aerobic workout of her Resident Evil franchise. They're right ... but is it unseemly to point out that we called it nine years ago, when we were knocked out by her hearty brothel owner in Michael Winterbottom's The Claim? (Probably yes.)

Jovovich really is something to behold here, working every angle of a complicated character who minute to minute slinks between the role of a devoted wife, a consummate schemer, and a sunny, seeming innocent. The rest of the cast is just as good (Frances Conroy practically folds her body into itself as Jack's drab, defeated wife).

Director John Curran (The Painted Veil) every once in a while lets the film's tone tip into hysteria, but mostly this is a tense and provocative piece (written by Junebug's Angus MacLachlan) that takes an interesting sideways approach into examining spirituality.

Stone screens tonight (9/24), 7pm, at the Paramount, with star Edward Norton in attendance. It opens in Austin on Oct. 8.

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Fantastic Fest 2010, Fantastic Fest, Stone, Edward Norton, John Curran, Milla Jovovich, Angus MacLachlan, Robert De Niro

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