Writer/Director Hilary Brougher has created a deeply involving and moving masterwork of film with her little independent low budget STEPHANIE DALEY. Brougher has courage to address an issue most people wish to submerge - that of unwanted teenage pregnancies and their consequences - and she does it in the form of a story that is so well woven and presented with such fine actors that she not only succeeds in bringing attention to her main topic, she also introduces us to two women whose lives, though separated by years of age, are significantly parallel. The result is a film that lingers in the mind long after the closing credits.
Stephanie Daley (Amber Tamblyn) is a 16-year-old girl, shy, introverted and on the periphery of the social scene at high school until she meets a boy with whom she has consensual sex. The focus of her life changes as she grows in girth and at one dramatic point she gives birth to a fetus inside a bathroom stall which she secretly discards: no one knows Stephanie's secret. When she is examined, she is told she was pregnant, a fact which she denies. A forensic psychologist Lydie Crane (Tilda Swinton), pregnant herself, is brought into the case to examine Stephanie and help the court decide the truth about what happened. As Stephanie opens up to Lydie, Lydie begins to acknowledge her own conflicts about her current pregnancy with her husband Paul (Timothy Hutton): their first pregnancy resulted in a stillbirth and the current pregnancy began three months after that unresolved tragedy. When Lydie is not at her job she faces a world of people including a friend Frank (Denis O'Hare) who make her consider her own concepts of right and wrong. Lydie and Stephanie work together on the concept that 'the truth is what we believe'. How these two women reach the conclusions they do is the part of the story that is best left unshared until the viewer experiences it alone.
The cast is so fine that to single out one would be a disservice to the ensemble effect director Brougher has achieved. Tilda Swinton continues to finesse her extraordinary gifts as an actress and the young Amber Tamblyn makes a significant stride for her career. There is a small role for fine character actress Novella Nelson as Doctor Lynn that is a remarkable achievement. This is a film with a tough subject matter, handled with the utmost dignity, and makes a social statement while glowing as a superb independent film. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 07
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Grady Harp (gradyharp)
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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When 16 year-old Stephanie Daley (Amber Tamblyn) faces murder charges in connection with the death of her baby, pregnant forensic-psychologist Lydie Crane (Tilda Swinton) is tapped to unravel the truth. The teen claims to have been unaware of her condition, but as their sessions intensify, Stephanies state of denial and Lydies fears regarding her own pregnancy reveal a destiny that intertwines them both.