Much like “Sunset Boulevard”, “Stoned” pretty much starts from the end, and then works its way through the middle. At the opening, Jones stands at a phone booth attempting to book a gig for his new struggling band, The Rolling Stones whom wait out in the cold awaiting verification, and he looks on in pride about to give them the good news. And in the next scene Jones’ body is discovered at the bottom of his pool set to a montage of surrealistic sequences while his wife screams in horror. Such imagery could be mishandled rather well, but the emotion of the climax handed to us before the movie even gets in to full gear is rather effective.
“Stoned” recalls the life of Brian Jones from his forming of The Rolling Stones (With some rather shocking body doubles), his rivalry with his band mates, his weariness towards fame, and his inevitable downfall which led to his early death. My undying love for everything Rolling Stones not withstanding, “Stoned” is a typical, but very effective chronicle of yet another man’s downfall in the black hole that is fame through rock and roll, and the complacent enabling of his friends and family. Brian Jones, as played by Leo Gregory in a shaky, but strong performance is presented in many shades as a man and as a character. Though fellow rockers claimed he was a very nice guy, Jones is depicted as a rather tortured, but utterly manipulative man, even from stardom.
Paddy Considine, who can’t star in a film without stealing scenes away from everyone, stars as Frank Thorogood, the man who’d bring about Jones’ fate whether he knew it or not. Frank is obviously a sketchy man from his introduction to Brian, but Brian befriends him and enters in to a relationship based around manipulation, humiliation, and homosexual subtext that begin a downhill slope in to the inevitable death of Jones. Woolley’s film is consistent in its build-up, and foreshadowing showing Jones who was a self-destructive entity that departed from the band he helped create once he became obsessed with his own vanity.
Though Woolley’s direction attempts too often to be visual, and surreal for its own good, his portrait of this man who was his own worst enemy is very good and should stand as an ode to Jones. Jones was basically only one in a line of legendary rock stars who’d die prematurely thanks to their own self-destructive tedencies, and “Stoned” is a must for any true rock aficionado. In Morrison’s poem “Ode to LA while thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased”, he wrote: “I hope you went out, Smiling Like a child, Into the cool remnant of a dream” which director Woolley wisely pays homage to in the film’s last scene. Of course, we all know how the story ends, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue exploring Jones’ life.