Jack Mabrey (Robert De Niro), a correctional officer nearing retirement, is assigned the file of Gerald "Stone" Creeson (Edward Norton, in full method madness), a corn-rowed, arsonist whose strategems to secure early release include deploying the seductive charms of his wife, Lucetta (Milla Jovovich). At its heart, Stone
is a taut neo-noir, with a flawed protagonist and a classic femme fatale; this is De Niro's meatiest role in years and Jovovich's best performance of her career. Director John Curran (The Painted Veil
, We Don't Live Here Anymore
) also achingly captures Mabrey's life of quiet desperation, a hollow existence tempered with Bible, booze and a 40-year marriage. But it isn't until Junebug
scribe Angus MacLachlan attempts his own rewrite of Equus
by tacking on an extended subplot involving Stone's spiritual "awakening"—thanks to a mail-order, New Age faux-faith—that Stone
exposes its feet of clay.