City based Eddie (Luke Carroll), sets off in a banged up car to reconnect with his blackfella roots by taking a sacred stone back to his hometown. But when wild-boy Charlie (Leon Burchill) forces himself along for the ride, Eddie's spiritual journey takes a sharp turn off-track and becomes a bumpy ride through outback Australia as the boys are forced to contend with a self-obsessed Italian rock God (Valentino Del Toro), a dog seemingly possessed by Charlie's jilted girlfriend, a failed Aboriginal drag queen (David Page) - and a deadly spider in the car (which they don't know about for a while).
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Brazenly breaking filmmaking rules in bravura style, Richard Frankland takes audiences to the edge - and once safely there, dangerously over it, to hilarious effect. Irreverence and exuberance are the hallmarks of Stone Bros, which might well have been Stoned Bros but maybe somebody made a typo; it's the sort of enterprise where such a mistake would have been allowed through with glee... The cast give their all in wonderfully observed performances that retain credibility in the face of absurdity.
The road trip begins harmlessly enough - if you discount the 187 joints prepared in advance to fuel the trip - but the combination of likely lad Charlie (Luke Carroll) and Eddie (Leon Burchill) quickly turns it into a colourful and invigorating escape from drudgery.
The film plays like a single, holistic concept, created in a moment of enlightenment as the issues that have always interested Indigenous filmmaker Frankland burst into colourful display - as contingencies of the human condition. The universality of the themes beneath the comedy draw audiences into the world of sparky young Aboriginal lads and their circle with such good natured mischief it's hard to resist. And why would we?
Review by Louise Keller:
A lively, energetic and laugh-out-loud funny road movie with a uniquely black Australian flavour, Stone Bros is deliciously simple, yet as complex and dense as the colour grades between black and white. First and foremost, it's fresh and funny in a way we have never seen before. Although it should be said that Ten Canoes started the ball rolling. The tone is laid-back, mischievous and totally endearing. Bravo Richard Frankland! This is a feature debut to celebrate and one that will have audiences grinning broadly at the sheer bravado and quirkiness of the material.
Like the numbered joints (187 of them) which are smoked starting with the big numbers and working backwards, the film takes a totally converse point of view with regard to race. Black is beautiful (although it is suggested that all people are green) and everything is pro-black. There's even discrimination against white condoms. When Charlie (Leon Burchill) says to Eddie (Luke Carroll) about his skin colour: 'You're white looking - like an inside out coconut; black on inside, white on outside,' he is dishing out the ultimate insult. Burchill works a miracle as the irrepressible bad-boy Charlie ('I'm not scared of nothin'), who spends all his life 'smokin' and goin' to parties' while Carroll is wonderful as the conscientious Eddie who feels the tug of his roots over his shoulder. (The fantasy 'Sorry' scene in a supermarket after Eddie smokes his first joint is a potent hit of satire.)
The road stops are incongruous. And Eddie and Charlie inherit some passengers along the way, beginning with Valentino del Toro's Italian musician Vinnie ('I'm a seriously good smoker'). The dialogue is filled with nonsense, like the scene in which Eddie spins a tale to Mark (Peter Phelps), the white prison guard who thinks he's really black. Phelps is terrific - and shows more flesh than we've seen before (in the closing credits). I love the scene in the ladies' loo when Eddie delivers his 'what you are is what you is, and who you are is who you are...' pearls of gobbledygook. David Page's lip-synching transvestite Cousin Reggie ('Call me Regina, as in the Queen of England) is hilarious and the elements at the fiery wedding at the Mission (called Mission Impossible) are too bizarre for words. There a touch of sex and romance and penis envy also comes into play. Being chased by a possessed yappy dog called Merlin (who later bounces on a trampoline and smokes dope) also makes the mind boggle.
The laughs tumble out from the very first scene in Perth's war museum and by the time we reach our destination, Frankland manages to achieve it all - slap-dash, irreverent humour grounded in emotional reality and set in the dusty surrounds of the harsh landscape. Joseph Pickering's cinematography is good, too - we get a real sense of the typical Aussie bush, the native trees, the isolation and the wild life.
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RICHARD FRANKLAND INTERVIEW
STONE BROS. (MA)
CAST: Luke Carroll, Leon Burchill, David Page, Valentino del Toro, Peter Phelps, Mark Bin Bakar, Shakira Clanton, Shareena Clanton, Sylvia Clarke, David Kennedy
PRODUCER: Ross Hutchens, Colin South
DIRECTOR: Richard Frankland
SCRIPT: Richard Frankland
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Joseph Pickering
EDITOR: Meredith Watson Jeffrey
MUSIC: Shane O'Mara
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Aust Film Syndicate
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 24, 2009