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The Stone Reader could have been a fascinating documentary about forgotten works, novels lost to time through the indifference of readers at the wrong period, had writer/director Mark Moskowitz ever planned for that to be its purpose. Though presented as a tribute to the written word, its power and beauty, the film comes off as a love letter to Moskowitz’s own history of reading.

The film opens with Moskowitz’s rediscovery of a novel he had previously found unreadable, falling in love with it and wondering why he could find no more works by the author. This premise could easily provide a heartbreaking look at single book authors, and Moskowitz does look into this idea, but rather than seek out more of them he stops at authors famously unsuccessful during their lifetimes, such as the go to man in this category, Herman Melville. He also takes the longest route possible to reach his subject, Dow Mossman, where looking in the phone book might have helped.

In the midst of his search, however, Moskowitz drags out his film with every possibility to talk about himself. He brings out his mother to assure the viewer that he always read as a young man. He takes us through his gigs that keep him away from filming in the fall. He makes sure that we always know exactly how he feels about every aspect of the film, which would be fine if only it did not remove focus from the subject, the lost book The Stones of Summer. This makes the whole of the film overlong and rudderless at points where he should have been wrapping up, or at least making his point stronger. Moskowitz is entirely too present in his film, overshadowing the subject and shifting the spotlight to him. The Stone Reader becomes a vanity project as a result, which is a shame, as Moskowitz had a quite intriguing premise with so much fertile ground to explore. 2 stars


One Comment

  1. gonna send this to my mom

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