Stoned

Producer Stephen Woolley, a longtime associate of Neil Jordan, made his directing debut with this woozy, drug-laced biopic of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones (Leo Gregory), a prodigiously talented dandy whose excesses set the standard for rock 'n' roll debauchery and contributed to his early death. That said, Woolley rejects the prevailing belief that...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Producer Stephen Woolley, a longtime associate of Neil Jordan, made his directing debut with this woozy, drug-laced biopic of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones (Leo Gregory), a prodigiously talented dandy whose excesses set the standard for rock 'n' roll debauchery and contributed to his early death. That said, Woolley rejects the prevailing belief that Jones, who drowned in his own swimming pool at the age of 27, died by "misadventure," instead embracing the theory that he was killed by contractor Frank Thorogood (Paddy Considine), hired by the Stones' road manager, Tom Keylock (David Morrissey), to renovate Jones' house at Cotchford Estate, a rural East Sussex property once owned by Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne. This lurid conjecture (explored in several books written in the 1990s, when Thorogood supposedly confessed on his deathbed) lends the film a certain novelty but can't compensate for its overall feeling of nostalgic familiarity. July 2, 1969: A man's pale body drifts in a floodlit pool under a dark, starry sky. Two women pull him out while another man shivers, dripping wet, beneath a towel. The dead man is Brian Jones, and a trippy montage recaps his brief, turbulent reign as the wildest of their satanic majesties: The concerts, the screaming dolly birds, the orgies, occultism, mod clothes, off-stage escapades and drugs. In a series of interlocking flashbacks, Jones is shown bringing together fellow musicians Mick Jagger (Luke De Woolfson), Keith Richards (Ben Whishaw) and Charlie Watts (James D. White) to cover classic blues songs, booking their newly formed band in local London clubs and playing a mini-orchestra of instruments — from slide guitar to mellotron to sitar — on their albums (the complete absence of original Stones music on the soundtrack is a huge liability). Jones' angelic androgyny and devilish libido seduce girls from Dover to Detroit, but he meets his muse in German actress/scene-maker Anita Pallenberg (Monet Mazur), who encourages his escapades then abandons him for Richards. Increasingly marginalized, he retreats to Cotchford and a prickly, potentially explosive relationship with the older and vastly more conservative Thorogood, who's simultaneously titillated and repelled by Jones' ambi-sexual hedonism. Woolley's dedication to rehabilitating Jones' reputation as a seminal Brit rocker is commendable, and the film is a glorious, intoxicating wallow in swinging '60s fashions and decor. But newcomer Gregory never captures the mercurial charisma for which Jones was famous (and which Jagger notoriously channeled in his movie debut, PERFORMANCE), without which his story is just another cautionary tale about fast times, intemperate passions and bad dope.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Producer Stephen Woolley, a longtime associate of Neil Jordan, made his directing debut with this woozy, drug-laced biopic of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones (Leo Gregory), a prodigiously talented dandy whose excesses set the standard for rock 'n' roll… (more)

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