Stone of Destiny

Stone of Destiny featured image

reviewed by Marc Glassman

Stone of Destiny. Charles Martin Smith, director and writer. Starring: Charlie Cox (Ian Hamilton), Kate Mara (Kay Matheson), Billy Boyd (Bill Craig), Ciaron Kelly (Alan Stuart), Robert Carlyle (John MacCormick), Peter Mullan (Ian’s dad)

In 1950, a group of Scottish students pulled off one of the greatest pranks in history. Three lads and one young woman stole back the Stone of Destiny, an ancient Scottish royal symbol, from Westminster Abbey, where the English had kept it since 1296. The theft helped to spur the Scottish independent movement, which successfully reestablished its own (somewhat limited) Parliament in 1999 after an absence of nearly three centuries.

Vancouver resident Charles Martin Smith’s film of this colourful episode, Stone of Destiny was the closing night gala at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The film has toured festivals from Edinburgh to Vancouver and will be released commercially in Canada next week.

It’s a sprightly film, and features some great character actors — particularly Robert Carlyle, who plays the Scottish nationalist professor John MacCormick and Peter Mullan, who plays the father of ringleader Ian Hamilton.

Given that the story is inherently dramatic and funny and the script is based on Hamilton’s memoirs, Stone of Destiny should be a triumph. Such isn’t the case, however. Sadly, the talented Mr. Smith — an excellent character actor whose career took off after his performance as one of the leads in American Graffiti (1973) — couldn’t wrestle the script to the ground.

The film has good moments — but too few of them. Unless you’re Scottish or a huge fan of Robert Carlyle, this film can be avoided, at least until it appears on DVD.

OzFlix: Australian Film Weekend
If you’re a lover of Aussie films and culture, there’s a niche festival for you this weekend. OxFlix will be screening features, shorts, docs, a free family film and a program of short animation — something for everyone! — from February 13 to 16, mainly at the Royal Ontario Museum. Check out for details.

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