Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middleclass Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
It seems those few critics and IMDB (and Amazon) reviewers who criticized it--occasionally while still giving it a favorable mark--are intent on complaining about what the movie ISN'T rather than what it is. Sure, the fictionalized shots of guys getting the book in the mail, etc., violate The Great Ethics of Documentary Films brought down from Sinai by Moses. (You know, Thou Shalt Not Recreate). And, yes, he does meander a bit and delay the pay off, but...so what?
This is more a conversation about books than a movie in any conventional sense. Complaints that some many interviews don't move him towards the goal of finding Dow Mossman miss the point that the interviews are themselves interesting conversations about the love of good books. Visiting Sealy (the NY Times reviewer who inspired him to read the book) doesn't solve anything--but who wouldn't want to hang around with him a couple of days discussing great reads? Of course, when he finds Dow, what do they do? They immediately talk about books! Love of books permeates everything here, most poignantly and surprisingly in the clearly emotional response the agent Carl Brandt has to being reminded of what he considers a great book and reflecting on a missed career.
Let's put it this way: if you love books, if you love talking about novels, if you get a thrill of excitement when you over hear a conversation about a book you love, then you will enjoy The Stone Reader. It is not conventionally well made, but thank heavens for that. It could be "better", but I doubt it could be more enjoyable.
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