Overture Films, Rated R
A murky Bible Belt noir in which nobody is who they seem, Stone mixes evangelism, midlife crisis lust and serious parole violations, along with Edward Norton in a weirdly over-the-top performance in what is usually referred to in less-than-polite circles as a “wigger.”
Directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil) and steeped in what seems like mystical heartland evangelical voodoo more suited for sci-fi, the movie sets up a convoluted cat-and-mouse prison caper in a continuously alternating switching up of sides and hidden agendas. Edward Norton is Stone, a Michigan prison inmate obsessed with manipulating his parole officer Jack (Robert De Niro) into recommending his release, related to a long prison term he’s been serving as an accomplice in the murder of his own grandparents and the heartless torching of their home. Decked out in dreads and spouting borderline clownish ghetto-speak, Stone moves on to plan B he realizes Jack isn’t going to help him out.
Enter Milla Jovovich (in an equally caricature-driven performance) as Lucetta, Stone’s slutty trailer park wench, who is sent to seduce Jack into a more receptive attitude towards her arsonist spouse’s pending parole hearing. Jack, who is up for parole himself so to speak and about to retire shortly, is not without his own dark secrets. Chief among them is a damaged relationship with alcoholic wife Madylyn (Frances Conroy) who sits at home all day drinking and reading scriptures ever since her hubby dangled their infant out the window and threatened to drop him if she ever left him.
At some point Jack seems to turn into Travis Bickle—minus his taxi—and Lucetta makes toy birds’ nests between make-out sessions with the grumpy lawman. All the while Stone, a con in more ways than one, finds Jesus, loses his dreads and becomes a self-described tuning fork for God. The audience may be left to wonder if all these prominent stars should be indicted and convicted as well, for making such bad choices in movies.