The Stone Boy (1984)

Stone Boy 1984The Stone Boy is an American drama that deals with the sensitive subject of grief. Arnold Hillerman (Jason Presson) is a twelve-year-old boy living on a small farm in rural America.  One morning he goes out to pick peas with his brother Eugene (Dean Cain) – taking a shotgun along in case they get lucky to hit a wild duck. While Arnold is trying to go through a fence, the shotgun’s trigger gets caught in the metal wire, and the shotgun fires, killing his older brother. Arnold is in shock, and so is his family.

For the rest of the film, the viewer observes how he and his family deals with their grief. Arnold blames himself for the death of his brother, and, though neither of his parents would say it out loud after the accident – they grow cold towards their youngest son …

"The Stone Boy" (1984) Theatrical Trailer

I anticipated seeing a sensible and touching family drama with coming-of-age overtones. However, the adaptation of the short tale “The Stone Boy” (written by the American novelist Gina Berriault) for the big screen ended up being a letdown.

The movie does not have a distinct point of emphasis throughout. It moves at a snail’s pace, which makes it difficult for the audience to become invested in the narrative. Some of the scenes were expertly directed and shot, particularly the one supposed to show how the young protagonist felt. However, these moments were obscured by the presence of a large number of unnecessary scenes that served no purpose other than to bore the audience.

If one were to select the strong points from the movie and string them together into their own narrative, the end product would have been a story that was well-told and expertly acted out. Yet, in the 91 minutes, he took to tell the story, director Christopher Cain failed to engage the viewers. A shame – because the few good scenes feature good cinematography utilizing intriguing angle shots and color camera filters designed to enhance the story’s mood.

I hesitate to recommend The Stone Boy as a “must-see” film, especially considering the abundance of coming-of-age titles that stand up to the expectations of lovers of the genre. It’s not a narrative that younger viewers will be interested in, and it may become monotonous even for the most die-hard coming-of-age enthusiast.

Read more reviews about coming-of-age titles that deal with grief at

The Stone Boy RatingFilm title: The Stone Boy (1984)
Also known as: Kamienny chlopiec
Release year: 1984, International Productions, Angeles Entertainment Group, Inverness
Director: Christopher Cain
Cast: Jason Presson, Robert Duvall, Dean Cain, Susan Rinell, Frederic Forrest and others

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