Jesse Stone comes out of involuntary retirement after the sheriff who replaced him exploded in their police car. The other officers Jesse worked with have left the department so he is forced... Read allJesse Stone comes out of involuntary retirement after the sheriff who replaced him exploded in their police car. The other officers Jesse worked with have left the department so he is forced to solve the crime on his own.Jesse Stone comes out of involuntary retirement after the sheriff who replaced him exploded in their police car. The other officers Jesse worked with have left the department so he is forced to solve the crime on his own.
Stone is no Ebenezer Scrooge. The ghosts that terrified him back in Los Angeles where he took to binge drinking and lost a high profile law enforcement job, are within his soul still, permanently goading and guiding him.
From 2005 through 2012, I watched, with increasing curiosity, involvement, and enthusiasm, as Tom Selleck and his cast maneuvered through five movies about Jesse Stone. Now, I have the distinct feeling that Selleck has assembled his favorite fellow actors to join in producing art and serious fun.
Thirty years ago, after "Magnum P.I.," Selleck is still refining and perfecting his acting skills. The actor who lost the Indiana Jones franchise to Harrison Ford, is selecting his vehicles carefully, systematically.
The dialog in the Stone movies is unusual, like the repartee one might overhear, by accident, between aged, battle-scarred warriors, or experienced EMT workers, in private, or out of ear shot, making ironic comments about life and love, death and destruction treating very serious subjects in a manner that sounds like light banter.
The Jesse Stone movies will not be for everyone's tastes. Its humor evolves out of people continually reminding themselves of how easily they could become corrupted or dead, the kind of humor that keeps characters and audiences on edge. Serious drama tipped just enough on edge to allow the audience to glimpse just a bit of Abbott and Costello or "Waiting for Gogot," reflecting on what well-intentioned but often self-deceiving creatures we human beings are.
Stone's drinking and womanizing somehow make him a sympathetic character where another actor might come across as a cad or pervert, a creep or monster. That is acting skill. This is Horation satire. It mocks and ridicules wrongs and weaknesses, but it is forgiving, unlike Juvenalian satire which is serious, grim, caustic and unforgiving, going straight for the jugular.
Selleck and cast treat even gruesome death with the dark humor MASH surgeons use to keep their sanity as they continually patch up wounded soldiers sending them back again and again to try to kill other human beings.
Some of the wittiest repartee since the 1980's "Equalizer" starred Edward Woodward and Robert Lansing, shows the verbal counter punching skills of Selleck and McHattie.
This movie may appeal to students of successful failures. It may even appeal to people who believe in atonement and forgiveness, reformation and redemption.
The movie manages to evoke an almost Vaudevillian humor out of events which in reality might feel like distilled sorrow or overwhelming grief.
Devane, shrink, ex-cop and almost ex-drinker, is a reflector for Stone's struggles and misadventures with both women and the bottle, and their interludes are played both for serious intent and droll comedy, as men, as lovers, as drinkers, and as human beings struggling to help themselves and others.
Aristotle said that a memorable character is (a) true to life (b) true to type and (c) true to self. The Stone movies turn the first two definitions on their heads a bit, but we know that it takes all kinds to make a world. Being true to oneself entails continual contemplation and application of the Serenity Prayer.
- May 3, 2013