The Stone Merchant

"OK"

The Stone Merchant Review


Harvey Keitel and Jane March in a smoldering European romance? Sounds like a late-night version of The English Patient (even the title, The Stone Merchant, feels like it). And sure enough, there's a love triangle at the core of this bizarre art film, but that is far from the case. Believe it or not, you're about to see a movie about terrorism, specifically Islamic extremism.

Leda (March) is married to Alceo (Jordi Mollà), a professor who lost both legs in a terrorist bombing and is making up for it with plenty of bitterness and bile. When Leda is held at gunpoint at an airport (this family can't catch a break!), they jet off for -- where else -- Turkey, Here they encounter a stone merchant (Keitel), who hawks $30,000 rocks out of what looks a little like a roadside fruit stand. He chamrs Leda, and after she returns home to Italy, they continue an affair. Meanwhile, Alceo is soon convinced of his wife's infidelity, as well as something suspicious about the stone merchant.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that the stone merchant is an Islamic terrorist. We know this because he has to take a shower every time he bangs Alceo's wife, and someone has deleted all trace of him from the couple's videos from their trip. (At first I thought the static over Keitel's face was going to implicate him as the devil instead of just some random terrorist, but The Stone Merchant isn't half that clever.) The film culminates with the merchant and his crew pulling poor Leda into a terrorist plot, completely as expected.

Regardless of your feelings on Islam, The Stone Merchant is rough stuff. It's savage as it rips into the faith, with Alceo its seething mouthpiece. 9/11 footage is shown, repeatedly, with Alceo blaming Islam directly for the event (and countless others).

That aside, yow, this is a pretty badly made movie. Director Renzo Martinelli is a lover of the dutch angle, filming just about everything -- even pretty landscapes -- on the diagonal. Why? I have no idea, but it did succeed in making me nauseous. The dialogue is heavy-handed (the worst being from Alceo and his shadowy crew, a pair of people that show up whenever he's in trouble like some bad TV drama). The acting is fair enough. Keitel and F. Murray Abraham are decent on autopilot, but March is out of her depth and Mollà is largely reduced to a blubbering cliche.

Unless you've still got a lot of pent-up anger (and I mean a lot) over Osama bin Laden, give this one a pass.

Aka Il Mercante di peitre.



The Stone Merchant

Facts and Figures

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th September 2006

Distributed by: Monarch Home Video

Production compaines: Medusa Produzione

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

IMDB: 4.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Renzo Martinelli

Producer: Renzo Martinelli

Starring: as The Merchant, as Leda, as Alceo, F. Murray Abraham as Shahid, Paco Reconti as Valerio, Bruno Bilotta as Libero, Lucilla Agosti as Lydia, Dhaffer L'Abidine as 1st Egyptian (as Dhaffer Labidine), Eddy Lemare as 2nd Egyptian, Federica Martinelli as Rita, Eleonora Martinelli as The Merchant Assistant, Riccardo Forte as Doc. Casellato, Alena Ivanov as Russian Woman, Maria Grazia Adamo as Female Student, Jonis Bashir as 1st Somali

Also starring:

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