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Stevie

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R
2002

Stevie is a profound and profoundly moving 2002 documentary that bears the name of its central character, Stephen Dale Fielding, and tells the riveting story of lives lived on the margins of society and the bond potentially strong enough to transcend it. The documentary, directed by Steve James, whose name might be familiar to viewers as the director of 1994's critically acclaimed "Hoop Dreams", offers yet another authentic and deeply humanistic portrayal of individual struggles, which has become something of a James hallmark over the years.

The film unfolds with a certain uneasy tension, lumbering with the heavy load of the issues it chooses to address - themes of poverty, abuse, mental health, and the failures of social and legal institutions. However, the main focus remains on the two principle subjects of the film - Steve James himself and Stevie Fielding.

In the late 1980s, James served as a Big Brother to Stevie, a troubled and vulnerable pre-teenager living in Southern Illinois. However, the demands of career and personal life led James to drift away from that mentorship role, a decision he comes to question during the course of the documentary. The impetus for the film is James' decision to reconnect with Stevie after ten years- a compelling plotline that is charged with a heartbreaking mixture of guilt, curiosity and responsibility.

Stevie Fielding himself is a complex and challenging figure, whose life by the time of the film consisted of a long string of disappointments, hardships, and encounters with law enforcement. His struggles with learning disabilities, an unsupportive family, an unstable living situation, and even allegations of sexual assault, make his life story heart-rending and thought-provoking.

Adding an additional layer to the narrative is Steve's girlfriend, Tonya Gregory. The depiction of their relationship further enlightens viewers about the struggles that people living on the fringes of society encounter daily and adds more depth to the understanding of socio-cultural dynamics at play in Stevie's world.

It's important to note that James's work in this documentary goes beyond mere storytelling. He paints a no-holds-barred portrait of real people in the face of adversity. James raises questions about the role of individual responsibility in the face of systemic injustice. Can relationships built on helping and mentoring transcend into friendship? And at what point does it intersect or interfere with professional boundaries?

Visually, the Stevie documentary distinguishes itself with a real-life aesthetic. The cinematography has a raw, unflinching quality that parallels the stark realities depicted in the movie. The restrained color palette, combined with the hand-held style of shooting, intensifies the authenticity of the scenes while highlighting the bleak circumstances surrounding Stevie's world. If anything, the camera work and the aesthetics add to the verisimilitude of the movie, making it an exercise in genuine documentary filmmaking.

Looking at the performances, they are as real as they get, considering this is a documentary. Stephen Fielding stands out, bringing a tragic intensity to his performance, illustrating that Life, indeed, can be much stranger, and horrific, than fiction. His raw emotions visible on the screen help to frame a character who, instead of seeking sympathy, seems to yearn for understanding and change. James, Gregory, and the rest of the supporting cast also execute their roles with aplomb, bringing an authentic human touch to the screen.

In conclusion, Stevie is a documentary that offers a deep, nuanced exploration of people, places, and conditions that many of us don't encounter, or choose not to notice. It's a heartbreaking testament to the many invisible individuals dismissed by society, and a potent statement on the humbling reality that there are people who struggle and lose battles every day. In essence, this documentary is not for the faint-hearted but for those who truly appreciate the power of cinema to shed light on the untold faces and unheard voices of society.

Stevie is a Documentary, Drama movie released in 2002. It has a runtime of 144 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.8. It also holds a MetaScore of 72.

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Where can I stream Stevie movie online? Stevie is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Google Play. Some platforms allow you to rent Stevie for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

7.8/10
72/100
Director
Steve James
Also starring Steve James
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