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The Stone Raft (2002) September 24, 2005

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
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(LA BALSA DE PIEDRA) (2002)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

The author of this review lives in a country whose political leadership is willing to sacrifice anything in order to join Europe. In light of these developments it is entertaining to see the THE STONE RAFT, 2002 Dutch-Spanish-Portuguese film where the plot, based on the novel by Portuguese writer Jose Saramago, revolves around the opposite process.

The plot begins with a crack that appears in Pyrenees Mountains. As the crack widens, Iberian Peninsula begins to drift away from the rest of European continent. While this happens, five men and women have began noticing that they were personally affected by other unexplainable phenomena – elderly pharmacist senses earthquakes nobody else can, one man could throw rocks hundreds of meters into the sea, a woman can’t unravel knitted sock, young man is constantly followed by a flock of bird while another woman can’t erase the lines she makes in the dust. All five of them join on a journey trying to find the sense in all those strange events.

Jose Saramago, author of the original novel, has won the Nobel Prize for literature. However, THE STONE RAFT is just another sad example of great literary works not looking that great when adapted to screen. George Sluizer, Dutch director famous for two versions of THE VANISHING, and his co-writer Yvette Biro, apparently failed to understand difficulties related to streamlining hundreds of pages into feature film format. Because of this, THE STONE RAFT almost immediately drifts away from the audiences just as the peninsula drifts away from the continent. Unusual and otherwise fascinating characters, played by experienced actors, most notably Gabino Diego, are wasted because of often incomprehensible dialogue and jokes that fall flat. The film often looks to be stuck in a limbo between genuine disaster movie and satire. The scenes which are supposed to be comment on Iberian and European politics look forced and ineffective, especially to the audiences unfamiliar with European issues. The “symbolic” ending is, just like the rest of the film, one huge disappointment. Although good acting saves general impression to a certain degree, THE STONE RAFT is a pretentious failure destined to sink into oblivion.

RATING: 3/10 (+)

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