×

Film Review: ‘The Stone Roses: Made of Stone’

Shane Meadows' first documentary is a surprisingly conventional portrait of Mancunian beat combo the Stone Roses.

With:
Ian Brown, Gary Mounfield, John Squire, Alan Wren, Shane Meadows.

Brit helmer Shane Meadows turns his hand to documaking for the first time (if you don’t count mock doc “Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee”) with “The Stone Roses: Made of Stone,” a surprisingly conventional portrait of the titular Mancunian beat combo. Hugely admired rock stars back in the early 1990s, the now middle-aged and somewhat quarrelsome quartet is observed attempting a bumpy reformation and comeback in 2011-12.  An ardent fanbase has made this a niche hit in Blighty with a near-$750,000 cume on fewer than 50 screens since its June 5 preem, but theatrical roads look rockier offshore.  

Appearing frequently onscreen here, as he did in “Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee” (a companion piece of sorts about fictional white rappers trying to score a gig), Meadows gushingly enthuses about his adoration of the Stone Roses, a rock ensemble whose core members — mouthy but charismatic lead singer Ian Brown and too-cool-for-school lead guitarist John Squire — have been friends and collaborators since the early 1980s.

Archival footage skillfully illustrates the backstory with enough clarity to inform the uninitiated while providing enough rare snippets to excite aficionados. Although the group’s peripheral members shifted around somewhat in the ’80s as they built up a following, by the time of their hugely successful 1989 debut album, “The Stone Roses,” a core foursome was set in slightly friable stone, with Brown and Squire accompanied by cheeky, easygoing bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield and Alan “Reni” Wren on drums. Wren was arguably the group’s secret weapon with his formidable musical talent and knack for off-center rhythms, qualities that contributed to the band’s unique punk-meets-acid-house-meets-guitar-pop sound, which so successfully captured the musical zeitgeist of the early ’90s and influenced many bands to come. Unfortunately, the proverbial personality clashes led to a split up after the musicians’ disappointing sophomore album, “The Second Coming” (modesty was never their strong suit).

Popular on Variety

The film’s original footage covers a period from 2011, when they announced their reunion at a press conference, to their triumphant 2012 outdoor concert at Heaton Park, where 75,000 fans were happy to fulfill the desire expressed in one of the band’s best known songs, “I Wanna Be Adored.” Meadows and his crew observe the band rehearsing, playing at a warm-up concert in Warrington that sells out in hours, and going on a rocky tour of Europe; at one point Reni temporarily quits the band, and Brown exacerbates the situation by calling his colleague a “cunt” onstage. Oddly, Meadows claims onscreen that he chose not to film the post-argument fallout because the musicians “don’t need cameras in their faces right now,” which makes the director come off as a nice guy but a weak journalist. In fact, the helmer and his crew seem to have less-than-comprehensive access, which rather dampens the drama and gives the docu a hagiographic feel.

Indeed, “The Stone Roses: Made of Stone” feels in every way like something made for and by fans, with the affable Meadows leading the cheers. The pic’s most appealing section by far shows the helmer interviewing fans trying to get into the Warrington concert and displaying his natural rapport with people, that human touch that makes him such an extraordinary director of non-pro thesps in dramatic features like “This Is England.”

The use of pencil-sketch monochrome, intermixed with color footage, offers another pleasant echo of Meadows’ earlier work, especially of “24 7: Twenty Four Seven” and “Somers Town,” while the deployment of split-screen effects feels more like a standard concert-movie device. The release in Blighty no doubt received an extra publicity boost from the fact that it debuted around the same time that the band played a big gig in London’s Finsbury Park. Meanwhile, Mat Whitecross’ “Spike Island,” a feature set during the Stone Roses legendary 1990 concert, should synergistically benefit from this film’s success.

Film Review: 'The Stone Roses: Made of Stone'

Reviewed at Curzon Soho, London, June 13, 2013. Running time: 96 MIN.

Production: (Documentary – U.K.) A Picturehouse Entertainment release of a Film4, Warp Films, Big Arty Prods. presentation. (International sales: Altitude, London.) Produced by Mark Herbert. Executive producers, Katherine Butler, Robin Gutch, Alex Marshall, Simon Moran, David Root.

Crew: Directed by Shane Meadows. Camera (color/B&W, HD), Laurie Rose; editors, Matthew Gray, Chris King, Tobias Zaldua; music supervisors, Tin Drum Music; sound (stereo), David Mitchell; re-recording mixer, John Rogerson; line producer, Libby Durdy; associate producer, Niall Shamma.

With: Ian Brown, Gary Mounfield, John Squire, Alan Wren, Shane Meadows.

More Film

  • NARCOS MEXICO

    Gaumont Scales Down U.S. Operations, Anticipates Big Losses (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gaumont, the once thriving French studio behind “The Intouchables” and “Narcos,” is set to rejig its film and TV strategy as it anticipates heavy losses in 2019. Variety can reveal that the company has all but shut down its TV distribution operations in the U.S., recently axing 12 employees, including Vanessa Shapiro, president of worldwide [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari BTS

    Cinema Audio Society Nominees Represent Wide Range of Genres

    There’s an exceptional level of craftsmanship among this year’s nominees for the Cinema Audio Society Awards, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments in sound mixing, a collaborative discipline that requires sound editors, re-recording mixers, Foley and ADR artistry to work together to create a harmonious finished product. The categories considered are: live action, animated and documentary features, [...]

  • My Name is Baghdad

    Reel Suspects Acquires Berlinale Generation Title 'My Name is Baghdad' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Reel Suspects has acquired international sales rights to Caru Alves de Souza’s coming-of-age tale “My Name is Baghdad,” which will world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in the Generation 14 section. The film was produced by Manjericão Filmes and Tangerina Entretenimento. It follows a 17-year-old female skater named Baghdad who lives in a working-class [...]

  • My Salinger Year

    Berlin Film Festival to Open With Sigourney Weaver, Margaret Qualley Starrer 'My Salinger Year'

    The 70th edition of the Berlinale will open with Philippe Falardeau’s anticipated “My Salinger Year,” headlined by a powerful female duo, Sigourney Weaver and Margaret Qualley. Set in New York’s literary world in the 90’s, the coming-of-age story is based on Joanna Rakoff’s international bestseller and follows Joanna (Qualley), who leaves graduate school to pursue [...]

  • Bad Hair

    'Bad Hair': Film Review

    The year is 1989 and New Jack Swing is about to push black culture from the margins to the mainstream. The question for the black employees of Culture, the music TV station at the center of writer-director Justin Simien’s delightfully macabre horror-dramedy “Bad Hair,” is what image do they — and their white executive Grant [...]

  • Bad Hair

    Justin Simien's 'Bad Hair' is a Tribute to Exploited Black Women Everywhere, Director Says

    Deeply personal but indulgently campy, Justin Simien’s Sundance opener “Bad Hair” is a genre-blending horror show that the director said serves as a tribute to the struggles of black women. The mind behind  “Dear White People” staged the world premiere for the project at Park City’s Ray Theater on Thursday night, before a cast that [...]

  • Taylor Swift: Miss Americana

    'Taylor Swift: Miss Americana': Film Review

    Fly-on-the-wall portraits of pop-music stars used to be dominated by, you know, pop music. The life and personality and woe-is-me-I’m-caught-in-the-media-fishbowl spectacle of the star herself was part of the equation, yet all that stuff had a way of dancing around the edges. Now, though, it’s front and center. In “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” we catch [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content