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

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

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.