A Filmmaker's Review: "Voice From the Stone" (2017)
3/5 - With great atmosphere also comes great confusion, apparently...
Let me tell you that I am one of those people who thinks that Emilia Clarke is just absolutely brilliant in every way. This film was no exception as her performance was incredible. Her ability to create depth with her performance by utilising body language and facial expressions that not only suit the situation but also seem entirely genuine made her portrayal of the nurse stand out. Her role fulfilled its purpose - it was meant to make her stand out so that the audience focus solidly on her and therefore, miss this kind of creepy vibe coming from the father and the son who has some sort of Cole Sear thing going on. I'm not going to say that the father and son gave what is considered a cliché portrayal of their characters but they were definitely not deep enough to convey the narrative they were attempting to convey.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons in more detail then:
First of all, we have the storyline (which is why I didn't use the introduction to 'advertise' it to you). It is pretty hollow to be honest. The narrative doesn't really go anywhere and by the end, you're really left thinking whether that was really it. You're not sure if you fully understood what just went on but between the crazy dream sequences and the kid with his ear to the wall, sleep deprivation and sculpting, you're just glad that the kid didn't end up killing anyone.
Secondly there's the problem of the 'matter of fact'. Now, we all know when something is very 'matter of fact' in a story, it proves there to be holes that were randomly filled when in the process of actually making the movie happen. One of these is about the woman who gives the nurse a new dress. Now, I'm not going to tell you exactly what it is because that would be a spoiler. But when you learn what has happened you will roll your eyes because 'of course she did'. You will definitely feel like that has been kind of oddly shoehorned into there but it really doesn't have any other impact on the storyline other than keeping the clarity as to what is actually happening. Unfortunately, it creates more problems than it solves and when you watch the film, you'll find it out for yourself.
On a positive note, the atmosphere of the film is incredible. The Italian architecture, the gothic vibe and the naturalistic images that come from the latticing of tree branches, the vines climbing the walls and the olden feel to the whole thing that dates back 1200 years (according to one of the characters). However, I feel like the overdone atmosphere of the film from time to time, overshadowed the story and made it difficult to decipher what was really going on. At one point your attention was on the atmosphere and then your attention was supposed to be on this very complex infestation story. For example: when the child almost jumps off the top of the castle, there's a lot of atmosphere and yet, when it's done you can't really make sense of why it happens because you're so trapped by the atmosphere you cannot find the 'why'. This important event seems to be covered by a bunch of 'stuff' - quite literally speaking.
All in all, the best thing about the film was the three-dimensional acting by Emilia Clarke who made the story not only slightly easier to understand but also provided a method for the infestation. As she moves closer to the child, she experiences this 'hurt' that the mother has (or rather, had) over the child. Even though the ending to the film doesn't quite make sense, the acting of Emilia Clarke makes it easier to take in and accept. However, the complexity of the story compared to the hollow dialogue, the overdone atmosphere and the difficult repetitive nature of the child can sometimes make the one and a half hours that this film takes to reach to climax more difficult to watch. I can't say that I hate the film because that would be wrong, but I can say that I probably won't be watching it again for a while. I would like to watch it again in order to rethink the story and the reason for the atmospheres of the film and maybe then, you can come on the journey with me.
This film is good for a lot of things but story through character is not one of them. Though, in a study of atmosphere, this film could be nearing the higher numbers on our lists.