"Stoic": Movie Review (2009)

12/20/2009 Posted by Admin

Movie Review


Written and directed by Uwe Boll, 87 minutes.

By our guest blogger, Spencer Morton

Director Uwe Boll is famous for all the wrong reasons. One of the most maligned directors in film history, he’s the master of terrible video game adaptations. He’s given the world such gems as “Alone in the Dark,” “BloodRayne” and “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.” To put things in complete perspective, his highest rated movie on rottentomatoes.com has a whopping 11 percent approval rating.

You may want to be sitting for what you’re about to read. One of Boll’s latest films, “Stoic,” is surprisingly great. Against all odds, the man has directed a quality film.

In the movie, four cellmates begin a seemingly innocent game of poker in which the loser has to eat a whole tube of toothpaste. When the loser doesn’t follow through, the other three cellmates turn on him and things spiral out of control. They go from playing petty jokes on the victim to causing his eventual "suicide."

Based on actual events that occurred in Germany, the film seems to have been adapted to take place in an American prison. One of the cellmates does have an accent, but the other three cellmates and the prison guards have American accents.

The film intertwines post-incident interrogations of the three cellmates with scenes of what really happened. It’s interesting to see how each of their stories coincides with the truth. The film is amazingly shot and edited. It’s raw, powerful and unrelenting. In fact, Boll didn’t even write a full script. He encouraged the actors to improvise and act on emotion, anticipating that it would give the film a more genuine feel. He was right.

“Stoic” tackles one of the many complex problems with the American prison system--group psychosis. Group psychosis can cause an individual to take radical actions the individual would not normally perform on their own. The three “aggressor” cellmates are in prison for arson, armed robbery and possession with intent. In jail, they commit rape, sodomy, assault, and--as previously noted--they cause the eventual death of the fourth cellmate.

The film is graphic and doesn’t hold back when depicting the above actions. As such, this isn't an easy film to watch. Boll shines an unfiltered light on the largely un-talked about happenings that occur inside a prison cell. This isn't the glitzy, watered-down prison fare Hollywood gives us each year.

The backbone of “Stoic” lies in its acting. The four cellmates--Mitch, Harry, Peter and Jack--are impeccably portrayed by four largely unknown actors. Edward Furlong, the most known actor in the bunch, gives his strongest performance yet. Most impressive is Sam Levinson, who plays the tormented and repentant Peter.

Occasionally, scenes tend to drag, and some of the dialogue and graphic shots are a little forced. Still, Boll might have found his niche with this movie, which is good because he needs to ditch the world of crappy video game adaptations and cheesy horror movies. If you enjoy small, beautifully shot and acted arthouse productions, check out “Stoic.” If you dislike Uwe Boll and wish he never would make another film, perhaps give him another shot by checking out this film. You might have a change of heart about whether the man has talent, after all.

Grade: B+

View the trailer for "Stoic" below. Thoughts?

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