It would be fine if Eric D. Howell’s Voice from the Stone were just a riff on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw or Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca — and it’s the second Rebecca-riff in as many months after Frantz — but the film suffers from pacing problems and an unfortunate usage of its female lead. Verena (Emilia Clarke) is a mousy governess hired by gruff sculptor Klaus (Marton Csokas) to live on his vast, gothic estate and work with his son Jakob (Edward Dring), who hasn’t spoken a word since Jakob’s mother Malvina (Caterina Munro) died several months earlier. Verena’s attempts to get through to Jakob are stonewalled by his apparent belief that Malvina’s spirit speaks to him through the stone walls of the castle, as well as by Klaus encouraging Verena to dress and behave like Malvina.
Again, that would all be fine, if not for Howell fully availing himself of Clarke’s willingness to do nudity. Meanwhile, a masturbation scene adds nothing other than the spectacle of the Mother of Dragons engaging in self-abuse, while a subplot involving a nude sculpture that raises a specter of incest — something the movie otherwise leaves unexamined — is just icky. Those scenes feel like the reason Voice from the Stone exists, and they’re not a good enough reason.
Voice from the Stone
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.