Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stephanie Daley

How can you tell that this film is an independent one? Obviously, it deals with a topic that many Hollywood studios want to avoid. Regardless of these two facts, I wouldn't watch Stephanie Daley a second time because the film bored me to death.

Stephanie Daley (Amber Tamblyn) is a 16-year-old girl who had her waters broken while being on a ski trip with her classmates. Stephanie will face murder charges in connection with the death of her baby. Eventually, Lydie Crane (Tilda Swinton), a pregnant forensic-psychologist, is tapped to get to the bottom of this story. As Lydie's inquiry advances, Stephanie claims that she wasn't aware of her pregnancy. Moreover, we also learn that Stephanie never talked about a sexual relationship that she once had with a guy from the town during a party.

Unlike what we're inclined to believe, the film actually has two stories: the one involving Stephanie and the other one with Lydie. Moreover, both stories are related by the moments when Stephanie is being interogated by Lydie in her office.

Unfortunately, scriptwriter/director Hilary Brougher gives us the feeling that she inserted two stories just for the sake of it and also to follow that trend established by Paul Haggis's Crash. While we get a clear view on Stephanie's perspective of what her pregnancy means in the story, we don't get to see Lydie questioning herself that much. After all, since Lydie is pregnant, it would have been really interesting to have a piece of her views on religion, abortion and motherhood while she tries to stay impartial. All in all, be aware that the film has a little plot hole.

Besides, the film might bore you to death because of its extremely slow pace. Other than that, the film can hopefully rely on the performance of its cast, especially from Amber Tamblyn. With an incredible dose of subtlety, Tamblyn manages to suggest both Stephanie's surprise and also her guilt caused by her pregnancy. Of course, even though the film takes place in a small town where people seem to care about religion, the story doesn't judge Stephanie's choices. In fact, it lets the main character judge herself through implicit statements.

Finally, the film certainly has its share of intelligence. However, have in mind that the pace is excruciatingly slow to the point that it makes it hard for you to feel thrilled by Stephanie Daley.

Rating: 3/5

Origin:USA (2006)
Length:92 minutes
Screenplay:Hilary Brougher
Director:Hilary Brougher
Starring:Amber Tamblyn, Tilda Swinton, Timothy Hutton and Halley Feiffer

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