Starring: Stevie Fielding and Steve James
Directed by: Steve James
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.
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
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
recommendation: Pabst Blue Ribbon shorts and Piggly Wiggly
brand turkey franks.