Stevie

"Bad"

Stevie Review


With no demanding actors, expensive special effects, or enormous film crews, documentaries are probably the easiest movies to make. Yet, since the genre looks at very specific topics, documentaries are probably the hardest movies to make appeal to a general audience. Michael Moore does it best when he combines broad, relevant issues with biting humor. Not coincidentally, his latest documentary, Bowling for Columbine, received universal acclaim and box-office success; it was one of the most entertaining films of 2002.

Stevie is the latest film by Steve James, the Academy award-winning director of the powerful, intimate documentary Hoop Dreams. But this is one of the most tedious films of the year, a two-hour ride through rural, southern Illinois, in a town where lifeless cattle graze all day, where old church steeples cast extended shadows across vacant street corners, and where the landscape distributes ramshackle country houses across the horizontal planes like raisins scattered through a bowl of Raisin Bran. Are you still awake?

When Steve James was attending Southern Illinois University, he became Stevie Fielding's Advocate Big Brother. Stevie was born illegitimately to a father he never knew and an abusive mother who never wanted him. When Stevie was a little older, his mother married and gave her new mother-in-law the responsibility of raising him. As a result, Stevie grew up with his step-grandmother, who lived right next door to his real mother. Stevie was a demanding, hyperactive child, living a heartbreaking life. James ended his formal duties to Stevie in 1985 when he relocated to Chicago to begin a film career.

James tells us frankly that findinga boy as troubled as Stevie was not what he intended when he became a Big Brother. As a child, Stevie had been placed and removed from every foster home in southern Illinois and as an adult he was arrested for a wide range of criminal acts. Having lost touch for 10 years, James revisits Fielding, who is now in his mid-twenties. During the course of filming, Stevie is accused of a sex crime, forcing James to examine his affection for Stevie while considering the atrocious crime he has committed.

Most documentaries begin with good intentions: to portray something that would normally be ignored by commercial cinema. Stevie is no exception. "It's an important story that needs to be told," says James. "It is ultimately a film about the humanity and compassion that can be found in even the darkest and most unlikely places." I disagree. It may be an important story to James, but it does not need to be told to a general audience. Stevie is not special enough to be the subject of a film. He's poor, uneducated, rural white trash complete with tattoos, crooked teeth, and long, greasy hair. These traits do not warrant a two-hour documentary film.

But Steve James doesn't understand this. He assumes the audience cares about Stevie -- but we do not. The film doesn't invoke our interest by arguing or contemplating controversial topics; it just candidly observes its uninteresting subjects. I've seen this work before, in Barenaked in America, for instance, the documentary about The Barenaked Ladies, a Canadian band, and their claim to fame in the United States. Barenaked worked because it said something interesting about fascinating people, while Stevie has nothing to say about uninteresting people. I once watched a documentary about a woman who made a hobby out of making plaster molds of famous peoples' penises. I could relate to her better than I could with these losers.

It's Stevielicious!



Facts and Figures

Run time: 140 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 13th March 2003

Distributed by: Lions Gate Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 68 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

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.