Stephanie Daley

"Very Good"

Stephanie Daley Review


As film subjects go, newborn death and its connections to the abortion debate are about as easy to approach as a pit of bible-carrying vipers. Though its plot comes straight from the Lifetime channel production line, the truth of the situation presented becomes more fleshed out and personal but nevertheless controversial to anyone who has followed similar stories on the nightly news. As one would guess, it's with careful steps that filmmaker Hilary Brougher takes on this subject in her sophomore effort Stephanie Daley.

Stephanie (Amber Tamblyn) was a good ol' religious girl before the whole rigmarole, spending Sunday morning at church looking after little kids while her parents (Jim Gaffigan and Melissa Leo) make small talk with the priest and other parishners. Being a sweet girl, her heart can't help but go out to the soldier-to-be who she meets at a friend's party. Sure enough, their quickie tryst ends with a bun in the oven and the boy nowhere to be found. Ultimately, Stephanie ends up giving birth on a school ski trip in a public toilet. The premature baby dies, leaving the world stunned and with nothing but questions galore.

Brougher balances this with the story of Stephanie's psychologist. Dr. Crane (Tilda Swinton) is a few weeks away from giving birth when she is called in to consult on the Daley case. As if that didn't make her nerves do a waltz, she's also convinced that her hubby (Timothy Hutton) is having an affair and doesn't tell anybody but her seemingly asexual buddy Frank (Denis O'Hare). Though it puts her own pregnancy in jeopardy, Crane soldiers on to try to find the reasoning behind Stephanie's actions and what happened on that ski trip.

Composed mainly of a series of visits between the forensic psychologist and the titular mommy, the film gets muddy here and there, but Brougher understates and underplays almost every scenes. Successfully alleviating the melodrama, Daley then becomes a study of isolation; a state that the film points out seems all but unavoidable for many women. Daley becomes isolated from her parents both in shattered faith and expectations, but Crane is no better off. The emotional bedlam that pregnancy wreaks on a woman's body isn't shied away from, and it diffuses the need for moral bartering when Brougher portrays Daley's controversial act. Though the scene focuses on Daley and not the shock of the action, one can't help but cringe at the use of The Wrens' "Everyone Choose Sides" on the soundtrack.

Ultimately a well-made mixture of Law & Order and a movie of the week, all seams are bound tight by Brougher's leading ladies. Swinton, ever resilient, marks every swift change of mood with human instinct, shying away from placing blame and focusing on the personal turmoil a pregnancy can bring out. One expects brilliance from Swinton, but Tamblyn is a revelation. Not once does the young actress overstate her character's emotions, showing remarkable brevity in the face of a confounding character. Brougher's film boils a rambunctious issue down to the personal bruises, rightfully neglecting the public while also addressing it.

Eyewitness news... starts now.



Stephanie Daley

Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 21st January 2006

Distributed by: Regent Releasing

Production compaines: red bone

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Hilary Brougher

Producer: , Lynette Howell, Samara Koffler, Jen Reskind

Starring: as Stephanie Daley, as Geoff, as Lydie Crane, as Paul, Constance Wu as Jenn, as Miri Daley, as Joe Daley, as Dr. Peterson, Neal Huff as Mr. Thomas, as Frank, Deirdre O'Connell as Jane

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.