May 9th, 2005

NASA_bighead

Mrs. Stone

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is a Showtime production based on the Tennesee WIlliams play. It was okay. Nothing brilliant, lots of over-acting and one amazingly Bad Southern Accent. Anne Bancroft's performance was a dilemma for me - she played a character which was very different from anything we've seen her play before, and the actress beneath was unrecognizable. Unfortunately, so was the character. She played a dowager Italian contessa with an accent which sounded more like it was Eastern European. Odd, since with a birth name like Anna Maria Italiano, and a New York upbringing, you would think she would have the Italian accent thing nailed. Speaking of bad accents, the southern one belonged to Londoner Roger Allum, who was so badly mis-cast in the Tennesee Williams role it was frightening. Rodrigo Santoro, a Brazilian, plays a homeless young man with no speaking part, who follows Mrs. Stone everywhere. He was teriffic.

One word to describe the movie - uneven. Helen Mirren in the title role had her moments, as did Olivier Martinez (a Paris-raised Spaniard playing an Italian gigilo), but both were given to bouts of under- and over-acting. The screenplay didn't help much on that score.

Speaking of the score, it wreaked. Much of it was annoying generic Italian-sounding fingernails-on-blackboard stuff. The director just loved to follow a quiet interlude with a gi-normous blast as a subtle reminder that the scene had changed, and that you could now turn your volume back down to 10 after it had been at 80 for the love scene. I hate when they do that. Especially when it is done without a reason, as it was several times in this film.

Nutshell synopsis: Karen Stone (Mirren) is an aging actress whose rich husband has financed her career. She is a household name, but a mediocre talent. When hubby dies on a trip to Italy, she decides to stay in Rome. After a while she hooks up with the Contessa (Bancroft) who sets her up with good-looking, young Italian men. It takes her a while to figure out these boys are gigilos and not interested in her for her charm and fading beauty. The bulk of the movie shows her cavorting with one Paolo (Martinez), who pretends for the longest time to not be interested in money. He does allow her to buy him things.

The homeless man (Santoro) has a big role in the surprise non-ending.