A beautiful cinematic adaptation of Tennessee Williams? first novel, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, tells the emotional story of Karen Stone (Mirren), an aging American actress who falls for a young Italian gigolo of capt... more »ivating beauty (Martinez) after the untimely death of her husband, Tom (Dennehy). In typical Tennessee Williams fashion, Mrs. Stone finds romance, but ultimately loses control and steps into a dangerous world of chaos.« less
Dorothy M. from FEDERAL WAY, WA Reviewed on 6/22/2013...
It is very true to the book, which I always appreciate in any adaptation. The situation in the movie could easily happen to someone whose life has been changed radically in a split second. Helen Mirren and Brian Dennehy did their usual superb jobs acting. The younger men overacted a bit.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Deborah M. from IRMO, SC Reviewed on 12/3/2012...
Super great drama. Full of thoughtful thematic elements, and, even if you are not that literary, it is still so enjoyable. And it doesn't hurt to see Olivier Martinez in his role. Helen Mirren is also just a fabulous actress!! Defineatly must see this movie!
A Brilliant Interpretation of Tennessee Williams' Tale
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is reassuring to know that Amazon.com has placed the DVD version of the made-for-television movie THE ROMAN SPRING OF MRS STONE on the wait list for its release in March of this year. For those fortunate enough to have viewed this film last fall the queue to own this high quality version of a novel by Tennessee Williams starts here. For this reviewer this version is superior to the movie made years ago for theater audiences.Mrs. Stone is an aging actress and devoted wife of a man who, after his wife's rather pathetic last bow on Broadway as Juliet, takes her to Rome to escape the critics and the public. She is a woman of means and when her husband dies suddenly of a heart attack she finds herself alone in a way she has never known. She decides to remain in Rome rather than returning to America. Though an actress by profession she is rather shy by nature and a vulnerable woman who stares a bit too long in the mirror that reminds her of her fading glamour. In attempting to 'adjust' to her new expatriate status she mingles and meets a lecherous 'Contessa' who loathes Americans (silently) for her postwar lack of money. Actually the Contessa makes her living by manipulating the wealthy visiting Americans, particularly lonely wealthy women who need succor. She 'arranges' dates with handsome Italian gigolos, encourages her men to make the women fall in love, and then perpetrates schemes to capture their money.Mrs Stone is thus squired by legions of handsome men and eventually meets the one young gigolo with whom she can fall in love/lust. They have an extended affair until the obvious need for big money takes importance and Mrs Stone is left alone, injured, and feeling foolish. All during the story there is a disheveled beggar who stalks her and when she at last is left out in the cold, she invites the beggar up to her rooms for...and that is where Tennessee Williams leaves the ending to us!Helen Mirren is wholly believable as Mrs Stone. She holds a flawless American accent, carries herself as the actress she is, and becomes as beautiful as any creature can become when love walks beside her. The costumer for the film provides spectacular gowns for her character and she carries them off with aplomb. The sleazy Contessa is played to a fare-thee-well by Anne Bancroft: you can almost smell her rags and wigs and evil breath. Mrs Stone's lover is Olivier Martinez and he burns up the screen with his sexuality and nobility of demeanor. Even the beggar is given the importance to be acted by Rodrigo Santoro who again proves that words are completely unnecessary when defining a sex symbol garbed even in filth. He is magic.The settings are magnificent, the ironies between the wealthy and the poor are stated in just the right way, and all of Tennessee Williams' trademark characteristic symbols are in place. This is a superb film and an absolutely stunning performance by Helen Mirren. Get on the order list now and prepare for a pure delight in drama."
A Remake That Does The Material Justice
Donato | La Verne, CA United States | 07/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always enjoyed the 1961 Vivien Leigh film of this Tennessee Williams work, and so was happy to discover how well this version was done. Helen Mirren, Olivier Martinez and Anne Bancroft do the material justice. Aging Broadway actress (Mirren), fresh from a poorly-received-conceived production in New York, goes with rich, adoring husband to Italy. He dies. She stays on. She meets Bancroft, a crusty lady who sets up lonely females with young Italian men on the make. Bancroft does a wonderful job with this part made famous by Lotte Lenya. Her scenery chewing is always top-drawer and appropriate. (It's hard to believe we've just lost this great actress, who always put so much fire in her performances without ever losing sight of the characters she played.) So, Mirren's obsession with gigolo Martinez plays its sad course, leaving us with the same ambiguous ending of the 1961 version. (How one interprets the ending is probably a good indicator of whether one is a rose-colored-glasses romantic or a down-and-dirty pessimist.) One book on Williams suggests a parallel between Karen Stone and Williams himself, who apparently spent some time in Italy after his early Broadway success and had a romantic fling with a local Italian. Be that as it may, the remake has one thing going for it that the original did not: Olivier Martinez, who is infinitely more believable as an Italian gigolo than the handsome-but-not-very-believable-as-an-Italian Warren Beatty. And Mirren: fearless to let her age show through at every turn, juxtiposed against the firm flesh of the young Martinez. That's what gives her performance the real punch. This film is excellent entertainment in the hands of a cast of real pros."
"When the time comes I can't be desired for myself, I would
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's always interesting to do a comparison of the old and the new. Watching the latest version of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone starring Helen Mirren, one can see how the social mores of the time can have a profound effect on what we actually end up watching on the screen. I was well prepared to rubbish this particular version, but in many respects this newer and sexier version, achieves a depth of story and character that the older version could never hope to achieve.
In this adaptation, the sets, locations and costumes are lavish - although there are less exterior shots in Rome in this one, perhaps because the City no longer resembles the setting of the original story. Director Robert Ackerman and writer Martin Sherman have obviously traded scene for deeper character development, highlighting the sexual intimacy that takes place between Paolo and Karen Stone.
While the basic structure of the first movie has been retained, certain elements have been shifted around and expounded upon. Karen's best friend Meg is now Christopher (Roger Allam) an effete man who is presumably modeled on Williams himself. Karen's husband Tom (Brian Dennehy) has a larger part to play, and his apology to her that he hasn't been that good in the "physical" department is a nice addition, as it makes Karen's middle-aged sexual awakening all the more justified.
Perhaps the biggest asset is the casting of Olivier Martinez as Paolo (covered up tattoo aside). Although Warren Beauty was good, Martinez just seems more compelling and authentic and he fits the role of the hot young gigolo as smoothly as the tailored suits that his client buys for him. And Anne Bancroft's turn as the Contessa, reduced to the position of procurer for wealthy old American widows, is a much more overtly mercenary and nastier, than Lotte Lenya's.
Mirren's Karen isn't as neurotic and fearful as Vivian Leigh's portrayal, but she is just as fixated on getting older, if not more so, and she comes across as much more sensual, and also willing to explore that darker side of her nature. Because this version was made in 2003, we get a lot more sex, which is good, because it's important to the story, and to the development of the relationship with Karen and Paolo.
Karen basically gets quickie sex whether she wants it or not - on the lounge in her rooftop apartment, in the front seat of a car on the way to a picnic, and up against a wall of a nightclub whilst she is bedecked in jewels and fur. There's some obligatory nudity, particularly shots of Mirren's bust, you get to see Martinez' taught, tight body.
The sex is steamy, if not a bit choreographed, and Paolo always initiates it before he ever hits her up for money. Of course, Karen falls for him and deludes herself into thinking he cares for her. The last part of the film is pretty much by the book - she obviously knows it will end, but she allows her heart to feel otherwise.
Another interesting emphasis is the decline of the Italian aristocracy and the bitter anti-American feeling. The Contessa and Paulo are proud people, they come from nobility, yet they have lost everything in the war - you get the sense that Paulo hates being a gigolo and that the Contessa hates pimping him out. In a later scene, the Contessa even cites the bombing and invasion of Italy by the Americans as the source of her destitution.
Overall, while made for the small screen, this version of the Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone really manages to capture the heart and desperation of Williams' work. He really seemed to like spinning these tales of once-beautiful, aging women, desperate for love and addictively pursuing affection, literally at any cost. This film - buoyed by Mirren's sensual performance and Martinez' earthy and sexy charisma - is a fine contemporary addition to the series of films showing the power and emotion of William's literary legacy. Mike Leonard May 06. "
Bravo! to Helen Mirren and Olivier Martinez.
James McDonald | Southern California | 05/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh my, can Tennessee Williams write! I remember seeing the original film version "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" (1962) starring Vivian Leigh and Warren Beatty. The 1962 version was quite interesting because it had cast middle-aged Vivian Leigh (Gone With The Wind ) and she played the role so believable. But I could not watch the film all the way through because of Warren Beatty. So I never saw the ending of the film and it is embarrassing to watch. In this 2002 version, Helen Mirren's performance is top-notch. Her acting and facial expressions are perfect. You can tell what she's thinking. Olivier Martinez is perfectly cast as the man-of-interest. These two actors will draw you in to the storyline. They work well together. The very end of the film, I said "Bravo!". Bravo to the great acting in this film and the way it was made. I will probably watch this version again.
Incidentally, Anne Bancroft plays the heavy (the Madame role) in this one, of course, we all remember Anne Bancroft played a role, similar to Helen Mirren's, in The Graduate (1967), where Dustin Hoffman played the "May" in the May-December romance and Anne Bancroft played the "December" as "Mrs. Robinson." DVD includes interviews with Helen Mirren and Olivier Martinez."
Spring Can Last a Lifetime
V. Marshall | North Fork, CA USA | 09/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film might bring back a little spring to your step while appealing to that sense of adventure we all stuff away as we get older.
The story was originally a novel by the great Tennessee Williams and it contains all of the tragic passion that Williams became a master of putting into words. Mrs. Stone is played by Helen Mirren as the ever tragic but beautiful lady aging in grace. With a career that begins to betray her, Mrs. Stone, travels to Italy with her stable but not very vigorous husband (Brian Dennehy) and falls in love with her surroundings. Tragically her ailing husband passes away and Mrs. Stone is left to contemplate her future as an aging widow with an ache for life and love. She returns to Italy only to be seduced by such beautiful evil due to her vulnerability. Anne Bancroft is exceptional as a countess (really a poor madam) who "befriends" Mrs. Stone. Eventually Mrs. Stone finds a new life, so she thinks, in the seduction of youth as found in a gorgeous gigolo (Olivier Martinez).
Helen Mirren is wonderful in this role as an aging but still absolutely vibrant widow. She makes the aging process look tireless and inspires a mature but youthful look at the world. Anne Bancroft is cunning and calculated as the Italian madam looking out for her own interests. What can anyone say about the extraordinary beauty of Olivier Martinez cast perfectly in his role as every rich and lonely woman's nightmare? Tennessee Williams has created a brilliant look into the brutal act of trying to age gracefully showing how the vulnerability of vanity can lead towards a horrible season. The backdrop of Italy adds a flavor that only encourages the characters into unknown passions. This film will leave you wondering if narcissism or maturity will rule in the rites of a glorious Italian spring. "