Stoned

on March 24, 2006 by Bridget Byrne
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Despite the bad wigs, "Stoned" is very evocative of its era, the 1960s, when Brian Jones came to fame as a Rolling Stone and very soon after rolled himself into a drug-fueled world shaped by his self-indulgence -- a world of toying and teasing and loving and hating, which eventually let to his death.

The ambiguity that enveloped Jones in his emotional coat of many colors also cloaked the circumstances of his death. These filmmakers have made a clear choice to settle on an answer pulled from a collision and collusion of circumstances much, much murkier than the swimming pool water that took Jones' breath away one late summer night in rural England. The scenario is based on and inspired by three different books about Jones' demise. Whether or not the answer provided here is partly the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, or just another pack of lies, like the many told on the journey to that ending, it works for the structure of the storytelling and the slant on the characters taken. So too does Stephen Woolley's direction: Scenes are interwoven in time and spaciness, intercut, and flashed back and forth into a meld, underscoring the culture-clash '60s and particularly Jones' paranoid vision.

Leo Gregory has all the necessary quicksilver, will-o-the-wisp, mercurial charm to play Jones, making his brilliantly etched personality seductive and fascinating, whether he's being gorgeously appealing or viciously mean. There's also a sense of a young man so eager to escape the ordinary circumstances of life that he will put himself through anything to try to feel special. This is no easy performance to pull off, especially when most of the scenes require playing stoned, and there's very little footage of Jones making music: the talent that allowed him to become what he was.

Paddy Considine as Frank Thorogood, ostensibly an ordinary local bloke both seduced and repelled by Jones' lifestyle, and David Morrissey as Tom Keylock, the ambitious road manager who tries to take advantage of everyone's weaknesses, have a wonderfully subtle suggestion of resentful menace, like characters in a Pinter play. Monet Mazur captures a sense of self-preservation that made Anita Pallenberg stand out as the woman who really mattered to Jones.

The other Rolling Stones get short shrift. Their music is not used; instead, stronger impact is gained from contemporary and modern versions of songs that inspired Jones' musical taste, and a something-like-a-mystery-thriller score by David Arnold.

There's equal-opportunity nudity, which was no big deal in the drug culture milieu of the '60s, and seems entirely natural on screen here. Starring Leo Gregory, Paddy Considine and David Morrissey. Directed by Stephen Woolley. Written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Produced by Stephen Woolley and Finola Dwyer. A Screen Media release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 102 min

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