26 September 2016

The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone

The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone 2002
  • Director: Robert Allan Ackerman
  • Based on book by Tennessee Williams
  • Cast: Helen Mirren, Olivier Martinez, Anne Bancroft, Rodrigo Santoro, Roger Allam, Brian Dennehy, Suzanne Bertie
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Helen Mirren – The Hundred Foot Journey, Brighton Rock, The Tempest, The Queen, Calendar Girls, Gosford Park, The Pledge, Some Mother’s Son, Prime Suspect, The Madness of King George, Mosquito Coast, Cymbeline, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ex Calibre, As You Like It, O Lucky Man
    • Anne Bancroft – 84 Charing Cross Road, To Be or Not to Be, The Elephant Man, The Graduate, The Miracle Worker
    • Brian Dennehy - The Exonerated, Romeo & Juliet, The Stars Fell on Henrietta, Presumed Innocent, Silverado, Foul Play, Looking for Mister Goodbar
    • Roger Allam  Endeavour, The Tempest (on stage and DVD), The Book Thief, The Woman in Black, Shakespeare and the Brits, Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides, Henry IV Parts One and Two, The Queen, V for Vendetta
    • Suzanne Bertie – The Comedy of Errors
  • Why? Helen Mirren
  • Seen: 24 September 2016      

       Tennessee Williams’ works usually film well. I’m not familiar with this novel but the cast is promising.
       Roger Allam as a gay playwright with a heavy Southern accent? Tennessee Williams himself, no doubt. Helen Mirren with an American accent as well. Hm.
       Karen Stone is a celebrated but aging and mediocre Broadway actor doing an ill-advised Juliet. It’s a fiasco and she cancels the tour. She and her ailing husband go to Rome. Her husband dies leaving her a rich retired widow with nothing to do.
       She starts lunching with the Contessa (Bancroft) who introduces her to a series of beautiful young men who beg tearfully for loans for their sick mother etc. She knows they’re lying but gives them the money, which ends up in the Contessa’s hands.
       Mrs Stone falls for one of these beautiful young gigolos and wines and dines him publicly, making a fool of herself. Throughout all this she is followed by a ragged young beggar who looks remarkably like the gigolos.
       It is very hard to care about a rich American widow and a sleazy aristocratic gigolo, their tedious affair and their loss of dignity, of which Mrs Stone is keenly aware. No explanation is ever given for the young beggar.
       It’s an unpleasant film, definitely not Tennessee Williams’ best, nor Helen Mirren’s. And Roger Allam comes nowhere close to his excellent Prospero or DI Thursday. But they do well with the sorry material they’re given.

2 ½ * of 5.  

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