Thursday, August 02, 2007

Stephanie Daley, a film by Hilary Brougher

Stephanie (Amber Tamblyn) is a fairly average sort of teenager - she's pretty, a bit shy, no experience with boys, has a family which is breaking up around her and isn't much support, is worried (needlessly) about her weight
Things get hairy for her the night she and her friend go to a keg party. This fellow follows her upstairs, they start making out, and the inevitable happens. Of course, she never sees him again, and finds herself pregnant. But she goes off on a school ski trip, which endangers her baby - after a couple of falls on the skifield, she actually gives birth to it (at about 20 weeks). The baby dies, and she's charged with some sort of criminal act, becomes the stuff of local gossip as the "ski mom". There needs to be a psychological assessment - which is where Lydie Crane (Tilda Swinton) comes in. The movie follows her sessions with Stephanie, with flashbacks to the events she's telling Lydie about. I have to say, that by the end, when I saw the agony the birth was for Stephanie and her account of how the baby died ("It was so tiny. It hardly moved. I did want, hope it would die. I thought it dead, and it died) hardly implicates her in any sort of crime, except maybe the way she disposed of the remains without telling anyone.

This is particularly so when you look at Lydie - her story is gradually revealed, to show a close parallel with Stephanie. She also had a stillborn baby ("not a miscarriage"), the effects of which have wreaked havoc in her relationship with her husband. I would have expected more sympathy, a bit more advocacy on behalf of Stephanie, rather than agreeing that five years jail time sounds about right. She "knew" that things were wrong with her baby, that it would not survive. Stephanie has similar knowledge, yet is not believed. Maybe there is a gender divide: much was made of the sense both women had of being at fault, and Stephanie even mentions the possibility of God punishing her, whereas one guy bluntly says "sometimes things just happen". Her only mistake was that she allowed herself to be seduced, when she wasn't really adult enough to go down that path - which puts culpability on the fellow (he is charged with statutory rape, but that is all we see of him).



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