SXSW Film Review: Stone Barn Castle 

Renovation porn starring actor Adrien Brody

Part beautifully shot upscale renovation porn, part modern-day Downton Abbey, Stone Barn Castle follows actor Adrien Brody as he undertakes the quixotic task of restoring a Gilded Age-era home in upstate New York.

Ostensibly a story about how Brody finds himself after a turbulent few years, the narrative here never really coheres into anything particularly compelling. The audience watches as Brody and his then-girlfriend Elsa Pataky stock the home with artifacts, antiquities, and curiosities from Asia, using a collection of exotic objets from India and China as the preferred language of expression. Are we meant to identify with this? Admire it? Aspire to it?

The most interesting component of this documentary is the relationship between Brody and the workers contracted to execute the four-year-long project. “I don’t know how they feel about it, but they almost feel like family to me,” says one young laborer a year into the project. Like the landed gentry of the British countryside, Brody cultivates loyalty on and near his estate through his continual employment of the area’s blue-collar workers. If director Kevin Ford had mined these relationships a bit more deeply, perhaps Stone Barn Castle  might have been more emotionally resonant.

Stone Barn Castle

Documentary Spotlight, World Premiere
Saturday, March 21, 11am, Alamo Lamar

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