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Stevie

Starring: Stevie Fielding and Steve James
Directed by: Steve James
Documentary




Documentaries are suppose to teach you, inspire you, educate you or move you. Stevie manages to do all of this (in its own way) and ads amaze to the list. It amazes in its brutal honesty. It makes you wince and wonder. It makes you sad that you learn, or rather, be reminded that people like Stevie have to live the way they do. It also infuriates you to see a man become what we expect given his surroundings - and nothing more. And all of these emotions are stirred up over a "nobody" of a shmoe named Stevie.

The film, unlike the faux reality TV smorgasbord of stunning model-like twenty-something people primped up in Prada and body piercings as the producers delicately orchestrate "real life" for our viewing pleasure, unapologetically romps into a real, and truly tragic, American tale one knows is hardly an isolated incident.

Director Steve James started what he thought would be a quick film based on a kid he knew back in rural Illinois named Stephen "Stevie" Fielding. Stevie was a troubled kid James met and mentored through a big brother organization. Years later James returns, camera in tow, to catch up with Stevie who is now an adult and unfortunately a direct byproduct of his multiple abuses who has become nothing more then a sad pimple on society's facade.

While we watch Stevie and his multiple life struggles it is easy to become angry with James as he often steps over the line as a feeling human being and lets the film roll as we watch a man coming to ruin. But as a documentarian James did the right thing. His first instinct was to stay put without submersion and interference in his subject. It's like watching the deer get attached by the lion at the water hole…

It had to be very tough.

The whole film is bittersweet as the two reunite with mixed feelings. Stevie feels a bit betrayed as James left abruptly years before and James feels he may be wrong in exposing this man's life so honestly once he starts to see where the life has led but cant seem to resist the great story...

Ultimately James' camera opens doors to Fielding's family unit. Aside from Stevie's smitten gal pal, Tonya Gregory, his is a family so dysfunctional it's actually frightening to think some folks live like this or endure without going mad in these situations. It's not the near poverty or the shoddy living quarters that are upsetting, money doesn't buy happiness after all, it's the total disregard anyone in his family seems to have or ever had for Stevie Fielding.

Stevie's not the brightest bulb on the porch nor is he very good at anger management. Never a good combo especially with mixed with lots of beer and Jack Daniels. As James comes back into Stevie's life, Mr. Fielding has been steadfast at heading down a criminal trail. His offenses seem to, inevitably, be leading to lifetime incarceration. James keeps his camera focused as Stevie is arrested for sexually molesting a young girl - his niece. Yech. Till now Stevie, as pathetic he was, never graduated from the saddy cakes run-of-the-mill drunk and disorderly stitched with an accent of occasional breaking and entering charges type. We watch in terror, praying there is some mistake since we've gotten to know Stevie a bit by the time this news is laid out. Yes he's the quintessential loser dude but a pervie too? You start to lose any feelings of pitty you had for the man. Call it destiny or fate brewed in a cess pool of a childhood or call it the "Bad Seed Syndrome" but we get a face on a statistic and Stevie's ultimately heart breaking.

Stevie is voyeurism at its finest, exceptionally honest filmmaking. Lessons? Be thankful you're not born into a family like this one we've been privy to. And if you were? Seek help at a community center - fast.

Snack recommendation: Pabst Blue Ribbon shorts and Piggly Wiggly brand turkey franks.


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