STONE ANGEL is the story of the last week of elderly Hagar’s life (played by Ellen Burstyn) as she reflects about the choices she has made and tries to come to peace with her past. Hagar’s son, Marvin, wants to put her in a nursing home, but she refuses. Instead, she hops a bus and returns to an abandoned beach cabin which was important in her past. There, she recounts memories of her life and marriage while smoking marijuana with a teenager she meets.
Most of the movie is told in flashback, starting when she was a young girl and continuing to the present. The movie, based on a popular novel, spans decades to tell the story.
Hagar is the daughter of a wealthy businessman in a small town who has high hopes for his daughter. He plays favorites with his children and gives Hagar a Scottish kilt pin, an important family heirloom, instead of giving it to the oldest son. However, Hagar is strong willed and marries a man against the wishes of her father, causing the daughter and father to never speak to each other again. Hagar comes to regret her actions when her husband becomes an alcoholic and can’t keep a job.
They have two sons and Hagar repeats the same problem of favoring one child over the other, which her father had done. Hagar gives the family kilt pin heirloom to the youngest son, instead of the oldest. This causes the oldest to leave, joining the army. Eventually, Hagar leaves her husband, taking the younger son.
Much later in life the family is reunited at the death of the father. Soon afterwards, the younger son dies playing “chicken” with a train.
Back in the present, she is diagnosed with cancer. She has an opportunity to reconcile with her oldest son and finally gives him the heirloom kilt pin that should have been his all along. Her son’s priest, whom she had insulted earlier, visits Hagar. At Hagar’s request, he sings a hymn from her childhood, “All People On Earth Do Dwell.” The memory of the song is pleasant and helps Hagar slip into a peaceful death.
STONE ANGEL is an exceptionally well-made movie. Ellen Burstyn gives an amazing performance as the sharp-tongued, feisty Hagar. She is a complex character. The script is dense and complicated, having been based on an equally dense and complicated novel spanning decades. The movie is strongly emotional, and all of the characters are multi-dimensional.
The character Hagar, being strong willed, is a dedicated atheist. She ridicules the priest, who is portrayed as being rather bumbling. She says that prayer is a waste of time and states that she is not angry at God because she simply doesn’t believe in him. When the priest visits her on her deathbed and sings the hymn so beautifully, it does move Hagar to tears as the sentiment of the hymn and the memory of her childhood church overtakes her. However, there is no indication that she changes her mind about belief in God.
There is no depicted violence in STONE ANGEL, but there is foul language, much of it profanity. Sex is depicted often between both married and unmarried couples, and drinking and marijuana are in much use. There is much to recommend about this movie for its strong dramatic impact. However, the protagonist’s atheist outlook and the movie’s many strong sex scenes are excessive, abhorrent and irritating.
(HH, AbAb, C, B, LL, V, SSS, NN, AA, DD, M) Strong humanist worldview with female protagonist rejecting belief in God or Jesus and insulting a Catholic or Episcopal priest, but at the very end a Christian witness by the priest may be seen by some as leaving the door slightly open for faith, though movie does not overtly show that the female protagonist changed her mind about God and Christianity; five obscenities, 16 profanities and an obscene gesture; no violence depicted but one character dies while playing “chicken” with a train; depicted sex among a few couples; brief upper female nudity, woman in underwear, rear male nudity, upper male nudity; drinking beer, liquor, alcoholic character; smoking of cigarettes and marijuana; and, parental favoritism.
STONE ANGEL is the well-acted story of the last week of elderly Hagar’s life as she reflects about the choices she made and tries to come to peace with her past. Most of the movie is told in flashback, starting when she was a young girl and continuing to the present. The movie, based on a novel, spans decades to tell the story. Hagar repeats her own father’s problems of showing favoritism, to dire consequences. The character Hagar is a dedicated atheist. When a priest visits her on her death bed and sings a hymn at her request, it does move Hagar to tears as the sentiment of the hymn and the memory of her childhood church overtakes her. However, there is no indication that she changes her mind about God.
There is foul language in STONE ANGEL, much of it profanity. Sex is depicted often between both married and unmarried couples, and drinking and marijuana are in much use. There is much to recommend about this movie for its strong dramatic impact. However, the protagonist’s atheistic outlook and the movie’s very strong sexual content are excessive, abhorrent and irritating.