Mercy III

film 3 of 3

Stone Reader

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 28, 2015

Mark Moskowitz, this film’s perpetrator, is something of a show off, but he’s also what he purports to be. By day he makes media, but in real life, at core and in his heart, he is a Reader. The result is that in addition to having a mild tinge of harmless look-at-me, Stone Reader is also a really convincing, really salutary demonstration of the profound benefits of bibliophilia. It’s one of the most pleasurable parts of the movie, and it really started me thinking. Books are a lot like a church, aren’t they? At a first and friendly level, they provide real shelter, and a set of ideas that comfort and console in times of need or sorrow. When you really commit, they insure that you’ll never be alone in the world. Books make for instant friends, on common ground, and with no end of substantial things to talk about. More than that, books can transform your life, and make it deeper, fuller and happier.

That’s half the movie, its strong foundation. The other half is devoted to MM’s search for Dow Mossman, the mysterious, vanished writer of this miraculous novel that he’d once read, and which now seems to have dropped completely from sight. In some ways the Mossman subplot is a structural conceit, an acceptable and successful contrivance that allows Moskowitz to develop his bookish themes. But then—we love spoiling here—he actually finds him, and at that point the film really spikes. Talk about church!

Books aside, the moving resolution of the Mossman mystery is the finding of the lost sheep, made flesh. The poor guy—in real and permanent difficulty, and a genius, with those two attributes so terribly and complicatedly intermingled. At first he can’t believe that this has happened. At first he hopes he won’t end up being a disappointment, like he feels he has so often, so utterly been. By the film’s end, something has changed. Partly, it means a very great deal to him that someone has loved his book so much. But that’s a means to a greater end. It’s simple, and really resonant. Some one cared, and followed through with that caring, and look what happened!

The Stone Reader wants you to read more, and might well be satisfied with that simple, happy, accomplishable outcome. Its ambitions probably end there. But if you look really closely, and really take its lessons to heart, Stone Reader could do a little more for you. It could help you act more frequently and faithfully upon your generous impulses. It could make you a better person.