[i]by Eddie Cockrell, published on Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 8:37pm PT|
A tastefully reverent, fundamentally sincere treatment of Margaret Laurence's 1964 Manitoba-based novel, a staple for Canada's 12th graders, "The Stone Angel" plays precisely as expected from a incident-laden, multigenerational and metaphorical book crammed into a conventional running time. Local auds may thrill at this visual embodiment of literary treasure, but the story won't resonate elsewhere beyond fests and some ancillary.
Cantankerous and proud 90-year-old Hagar Shipley (Ellen Burstyn) breaks free of stuffy, well-meaning son Marvin (Dylan Baker), and his promise of a nursing home, to journey north through Manitoba to the seaside memories of her youth. Along the way she, remembers her marriage to roughneck Bram (played in different generations by father-son thesps Cole and Wings Hauser). Prolific helmer Kari Skogland draws a fiery perf from vet Burstyn and a beguiling one from Christine Horne as the young Hagar. Yet the book's sheer "Giant"-like scope necessitates generational cross-cutting that's both rushed and cluttered; pic would have have been better served as a more leisurely miniseries. Tech credits are vivid.