Another Naked Stone
I like to lay my cards on the table up front so I have never read the Tennessee Williams novel on which "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" is based or have I watched the 1961 big screen adaptation starring Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty so I have nothing to compare it to. Despite this and despite this story being set in Italy one of my favourite places for cinema I can't say that "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" did much for me. It's not so much the storyline which includes intrigue and romance which didn't do it for me rather than the less that subtle acting from almost all involved which makes it a bit of a struggle.
After being savaged by the critics for starring as Juliet in a Broadway play, fading actress Karen Stone (Helen Mirren - Greenfingers) and her husband Tom (Brian Dennehy) head to Europe for a vacation having declared herself retired. But during their stay in Italy Tom passes away leaving Karen to cope on her own which she decides to do in Rome. It brings her to the attention of the Contessa (Anne Bancroft - Keeping the Faith) who introduces her to younger men including Paolo (Olivier Martinez - Unfaithful) who unbeknown to Karen is a professional gigolo working for the scheming Contessa who plans to defraud her. The question is will Helen be seduced by the attention of these young men or will the strange young man who hangs about on street corners watching Karen have something to do with all this.
So let me tell you what for me works about "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" and it is just two things. The first of all the idea of a widow discovering her passionate side after having a content marriage is good, is believable. And then there is the mystery surrounding the homeless man and what his motives are, is he a crazed fan of Karen or is he something else? These two things work, they keep you involved in this story of a woman and her decline.
There is for me one other thing which works and it is not the Italian setting because it never gets the attention it deserves. Nope I am on about Helen Mirren as Karen Stone as she is consistently believable as this fading actress who having lead a contented life with a husband who loved her now unearths a passionate side to her which had been hidden away. Unfortunately the rest of the performances are not so impressive and the likes of Olivier Martinez and Anne Bancroft end up coming across as less than subtle in their characterisations, in fact they often come across as completely forced which spoils the movie no end.
What this all boils down to is that "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" is by no means a bad movie but is a case of a movie where you expect it to be greater than it is because of what it is based on and who is in it.