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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Mirren and Bancroft are magnificent.

Author: gahicks from Georgia
12 July 2004

This beautifully costumed and photographed update of the 1961 film is vibrant, honest, and wonderfully acted. Helen Mirren's performance as the aging actress is at times playful, as when she brushes off an old "friend" with a lie about having a tumor, and heart-breaking as when her eyes travel from the perfect body of her lover to her own arms and then breaks down. Unlike most Tennessee Williams' works, "Stone" relies more on silences than on dialogue. Mirren registers every step in Karen's journey from humiliated actress to grieving widow to woman in love to woman scorned. Anne Bancroft, as the Countess, is also dead-on. Her arch manipulation of Karen conceals a passionate outrage at her own poverty that pours out with devastating effect in the film's final moments. Martinez and Santoro as the two young men are also effective.

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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Rodrigos character misunderstood by some.

Author: bbboomer49-1 from United States
5 July 2006

I don't know of what social class Rodrigo Santoros character had been before the war but I do know Mussolini did favor the aristocratic crowd prior to the war, causing the middle class Italian to increasingly fear and hate him. I do remember my grandmother talking about his breaking up the unions and doing everything to help the wealthy. Santoro did not need to speak, his expressions and his eyes spoke for him. I don't believe he was anyone to be feared. He was homeless and hungry and probably ill. This wealthy lady represented life and survival to him, but how was he to catch her eye when he had nothing at all to offer but himself? The night that she was standing outside the restaurant and jumped at him demanding to know what he wanted from her showed us she had nothing to fear from him. He backed away and appeared as if he was about to cry. When she finally threw him the keys his eyes filled with hope as if the gates of heaven had been open to him. I believe he went to her, not to harm her but with the hope of becoming a very devoted companion to her. That in their union he would survive and she would not be lonely anymore.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

Author: KRaySDB from Los Angeles
6 May 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler Alert! I enjoyed this film in a strange way, but I do have to say that the original was better, although Helen Mirren's performances are always fantastic.

On the other hand, I was not captivated by Olivier Martinez' performance and I used to be a big fan of his.

However, I was intrigued by the stranger at the end and although everyone else believes it was Karen Stone's "death wish" to submit to this stranger, or whatever, and that she will probably die at the hands of this stranger, I have to disagree. I perceived the ending differently. I feel Karen Stone ends up with this person because she wanted to be wanted. This guy obviously did want her. He had been virtually stalking her throughout the film. He had even shown that he was sexually aroused by her. She saw that in him and just wanted someone to want her and make her feel like a woman again. Yes, it is dangerous, yes it is naughty, but she was going to be wanted again. That's it.

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Prefer the 1961 version

Author: Ripshin from North Carolina
10 September 2004

Since the other users have provided details, ad nauseam, I will only say that Mirren seems to be channeling Vivien Leigh at times, especially in the last half. Many mannerisms are nearly identical to Leigh's actions in the 1961 studio version.

Also, strangely enough, I prefer the sound stage artifice of the 1960s. This cable movie was actually filmed on location, but in muted, boring colors. The 1961 feature has the wonderful Technicolor hues.

I found the actor portraying The Young Man/stalker to be far more sexy than Martinez's Paolo, even though he eats food off the ground, urinates in public, hacks up phlegm and never speaks.

Bancroft is fine, although I would have loved to have seen Sophia Loren take a stab at it.

And will you cable movie directors STOP overusing the "atmospheric" smoke machines?!! It looks like your entire film crew was smoking cigarettes during the interior scenes.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Helen Mirren Brings Karen Stone's Passion to Life

Author: DiAyn from Austin, Texas
30 April 2003

I am old enough to remember when Vivien Leigh starred in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Although I was a fan of Ms Leigh, I remember that I was quite unimpressed with the film. It was not particularly well-received. It was not one of Ms. Leigh's greatest roles. It is not a classic. This version of Roman Spring starring Helen Mirren and Olivier Martinez harkens back to the original novella by Tennessee Williams. The setting is returned to post-war Italy, and the story is told with great passion and drama. The plight of the Contessa and Paulo is much more understandable in that setting. The greatest difference is in the performance of Helen Mirren. In Mirren's capable hands, Karen Stone is shown as a woman who has known love but never real passion. In spite of her intelligence and common sense, Karen cannot resist Paulo, and her life changes irrevocably. In Mirren's performance, the transformation of Karen Stone is revealed in her actions, her clothes, and every nuance of face and voice. I think Tennessee Williams would approve.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

..judging against the original..

Author: fimimix from United States
21 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

..this is really a stretch, because it has been many years since I saw the film with Viven Leigh/Warren Beatty version. To compare the two versions, not really fair, because THIS "Spring" has such graphic sex-scenes, where as Miss Leigh would hardly have been filmed in such a manner, as I can remember. So, we must write on this particular version, only to say that Beatty was gorgeous, but what a rotten actor in that film. And, didn't "Mrs. Stone" have plastic surgery ????

First-off, had I been married to "Tom Stone" (Brian Dennedy), I think I'd have become obsessed with sexual encounters, too. Dennehy was a perfect cast for that role, because he certainly had NO sex-appeal. As others have written, "the animal" was lurking in "Mrs. Stone" (Helen Mirren), who was brilliant in this TV re-make. Although she was never a great beauty, not many actresses will allow themselves to be filmed with age all hanging-out. To me, that aspect was absolutely necessary to fully make her role believable, because that's what the story is about. I don't think too many actresses would be filmed is such sexually orgiastic scenes, either.

"Paolo" (Oliver Martinez) certainly was engaging in his snooty, macho character. If he's 40-years-old, all men should hope to be so hot-looking, even in this day of gyms and work-outs. His narcissism was brilliantly played, most "users" saying it wasn't acting. Who cares? Actresses use their beauty, too. After all, he was a "conte" ! (some folk may spell it with a "U"). Robert Ackerman may have been reticent about his directing in some scenes, but he certainly knew how to let "Paolo" use his "animalistic" prowess: make the actress drop the script by opening the sheet; a hump in an open auto; "beg", beg"; "let me take-off my grandmother's locket". Wow ! (Similar sexuality in "Primal Fear"). That "Mrs. Stone" was a good business-lady didn't prevent him from trying - I suspect most "marcetta" (gigolos) would have cut-out a long time before he did. After all, he was a businessman, too.....

I vaguely remember how wonderful Lotte Leyna was in the original film, but I thought "Contessa" (Anne Bancroft) was marvelous in that role. Her constant eating, when it was free, provided much-needed comedy in such a heavy story. Her slick role was well-played, as was her contempt for American ladies, as was her brow-beating to her guys. Tough luck that "Mrs. Stone" knew the value of a dollar......

"The Young Man" (Rodrigo Santoro) was stellar in his role of a homeless man. As several wrote, what a face under all that hair and dirt ! Martin Sherman could easily have insisted that he play the "marcetta", but his face WAS too sweet. He may have been homeless, but he was smart enough to figure-out "Paola" was an in line? Smart move to urinate for the employer. His attributes wasn't lost on "Mrs. Stone".......the "key scene" was exquisite for "Mrs. Stone" for her realization she was a lost soul, and the humility of the smelly street-man. The fade-out of their faces was genius. That's theater !

No one wrote that Roger Allam (the play-writer) could possibly have been playing the role of Tennessee Williams - very good impersonation; I've seen Williams up close many times. He had Brando as a model for "Paola". Nor did anyone mention the all-knowing expression on the hairdresser's face (Sara James), who could have narrated the whole movie with feeling.

In retrospect, Mirren was perfect for this role. "Age", not "beauty", was the centerpiece of this story. The costumes were gorgeous and the cinematography very good - I don't remember the score, so it must have been appropriate. Although someone was right about saying a lot of the background was shot in a studio, not in Rome, it was good......this was a TV-movie, guys....... Being faithful in loving the original version, I did not like this movie till the second viewing. I didn't know it was shot for TV, and wondered why anyone would try to re-make such a classic. Trading-off different aspects of the two versions is pointless - this is a very entertaining film. I recommend it for any adult - teenagers already know about all this stuff. I rate this movie as a 10.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

excellent character study

Author: pseawrig from United States
9 June 2003

This film is one of the best cinematic adaptations of a Tennessee Williams play that I can recall. As always in Williams' plays, people's desires aren't so pretty, but they ring true. This film does a great job of capturing the physical, spiritual and psychological realities of the immediate post-war period by documenting Mrs. Stone's "drift" into sexual awakening, social humiliation, and moral uncertainty. The movie poses difficult questions, but it asks them beautifully, and Helen Mirren gives an awesome performance.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

An intelligent and thought provoking treatment of classic Williams

Author: jnaylor284 from United States
5 May 2003

An intelligent and multi-layered treatment of the 1961 film classic from Tennessee Williams. Helen Mirren gives one of her best performances. All the casting works well. The pacing and cinematography is beautiful. John Altman's music is brooding and portends of the emptiness and tragic self-discovery that Mrs. Stone will ultimately find herself facing. Nice job Showtime. Please consider a DVD offering.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

delctable and disrespectful

Author: bluemonarc from Parker, CO
22 August 2003

I own satellite TV and had to order showtime for just this movie. I was a big fan of Olivier Martinez so i was really excited to see him perform in it. But I never realized how great Helen Mirren was. She is a great actress. I am 23 yrs old and never have been interested period films to much but........ The two of them( Helen and Olivier) really were enjoyable to watch. I was mezmerized about how Olivier could be so delectable and disrespectful at the same time. This movie never lost me at any point and it really kept me interested in the story. The emotions I felt from Helens acting ability during the movie were so real to me. She expressed pain, agony, embarrasment and pure happiness SO well. The end of the movie left us wondering about Helens character. Which I could do with out because I hate to be left hanging. HAHAHA I really can not express how much I liked this movie.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Powerful theme that never grows old like its unfortunate heroine....

Author: mark.waltz from United States
27 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Karen Stone (Helen Mirren) is a beloved stage star; Beloved by her public, social group and especially her loving husband (Brian Dennehy), a Broadway producer who believes her to be ageless. So what does he do? Casts her as Juliet, that's what. The fifty-something actress is still a beauty, but Juliet is 16, so guess what: she looks ridiculous. She is reminded that actresses of many ages have played Juliet, but in post-war America, with the media thriving and TV in its infancy, she is a bomb. None of her friends even show up after the performance on opening night to congratulate her. With Dennehy ailing, she decides to retire from the stage, and they go to Italy where the inevitable happens. All alone now, Stone is ripe for the picking, and the evil contessa (Anne Bancroft) sets her sights on Mrs. Stone to set her up to be fleeced by her stable of gigolos. Oliver Martinez plays Paolo di Lio, who is reminded by Bancroft that he is aging and must make one final swoop so he won't be left desolate when his usefulness is done. At first, Mrs. Stone is simply cordial to Paolo, which makes him want her all the more; But once they fall into bed, this sets up the plot for more games by Bancroft and ultimate jealousies and cruelties between each of the two. A mysterious homeless man keeps an eye on Stone, his own motives unclear...

What was original a novel by Tennessee Williams became a decadent 1961 soap opera starring Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty, and 42 years later, gets a more adult treatment for cable. The sex is more graphic, and the atmosphere much more sinister. Anne Bancroft is like the witch in a Grimm's Fairie Tale, an evil woman who blames the aftermath of the war on the American soldiers, and takes it out on all of the Americans who visit the desolated country. Once a rich aristocrat, she is basically a "pimp" who will fleece every American she can. Watch her reaction when she is politely "thanked" for a social fopot by Mirren who has been hostess to her on several occasions. She makes the character originated by Lotte Lenya in the 1961 film a lot more grotesque. But just try and take your eyes off of her. Bancroft is brilliant.

As for Mirren, she brings out Karen's insecurities until they are painfully written all over her face. She is not the old lady she claims she is, nor is she not lovely enough to find the type of love she deserves, but she has a lifetime of exploitation behind her so she has no way out. First exploited as an actress by her loving husband who was devoted to her, she is garishly used by the countess, and it is sad to see such a lovely character be destroyed by that evil. Mirren only has minor bags under her eyes, and her body (exposed in several scenes) is in beautiful shape. The silent self hatred this character didn't know about until she lost her husband is heartbreaking. As for Martinez, he gives many facets to the character of Paolo; It is obvious that he has major feelings for her in spite of what he was hired to do, but is so wrapped up in his own macho world, he can't face his underlying tenderness. It is interesting to note that the sex scenes seem to get rougher as the film goes on, indicating an anger inside him that is about to explode like Mount Vesuveus.

Then there is Rodrigo Santoro as the mysterious homeless man. What his intentions are certainly never become clear, and this will give the viewer the opportunity to guess how things turn out. As a fan of Tennessee Williams' work, I saw a similarity with him and the character who represents death in "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore" (movie title-"Boom"). Whether or not he is will have to be in the mind of the viewer. The original version (as well as this one) gave me hope that the obvious conclusion wasn't true, but then this leads to all sorts of other pondering as to how Mrs. Stone's life would proceed. Only a conversation between Mirren and Martinez about how similar situations have ended give indication what is in store for Mirren. There is also the inevitable comparison to the gay lifestyle as some of the sexual longings of Mrs. Stone and the need for young companionship seem to come from Williams' own view of the gay scene in his time.

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