Stoned

Could 1960s-style sex, drugs and rock & roll really have been this dull? In his directing debut, producer Stephen Woolley (Backbeat) takes a speculative look at the 1969 death of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones, played by a charisma-free Leo Gregory. Just a few days after band members Mick Jagger (Luke de Woolfson) and Keith Richards (Ben Whishaw) fire Jones from the band, the glam rocker is found dead in the swimming pool of his country house. Was it drugs? Or did Jones' live-in gofer Frank Thorogood (Paddy Considine, doing his best to put flesh and blood on a concept) do him in?

Stoned shows Jones playing sadistic sex games at Frank's expense, making him do push-ups in front of a groupie for a glimpse between her legs. Frank is also witness to Jones' abusive behavior, beating up actress girlfriend Anita Pallenberg (Monet Mazur). Flashbacks present Jones abandoning the Stones in the studio to indulge a globe-trotting, hedonistic lifestyle with girls and boys. The degradation Jones inflicts on Thorogood will strike film addicts as right out of The Servant, the potently perverse 1963 film written by Harold Pinter. And the sexually blurred rocker Jagger played so rivetingly in 1970's Performance is eerily suggestive of Jones. His life and death remain a fascinating mystery — just not in this film. The herky-jerky editing is meant to indicate tumultuous excitement, switching back and forth in time, but the effect is grating and frustratingly unilluminating. With Jagger, Richards and Charlie Watts (James D. White) reduced to the sidelines and no original Stones music, the film is dead on arrival.

From The Archives Issue 111: June 22, 1972
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