Film Review – Stevie
A filmmaker from Southern Illinois University spent some time being a “big brother” to Stevie in the 80’s and feels guilty about not keeping in touch 10 years later. This is the story of him going back to visit Stevie and his family and get caught up. Stevie is kind of a slow nerdy racist redneck with big glasses. He lives with his grandmother because his mother allegedly beat him pretty good. There’s all kinds of threats of killing each other (mother and son) and now he’s living at grandma’s house.
He’s got a girlfriend/fiancé that’s kind of “touched” as well, but they’re truly happy together. They love each other and say nice things about each other. Her parents don’t like Stevie because he drinks and smokes weed. But as long as he doesn’t hit her, they’ll leave Stevie and their daughter alone. Stevie was married once before, but he tried to kill her (and failed), so clearly he’s got a temper. The Big Brother brings his family down to see Stevie, since it’s been ten years, and the kids have to leave the room when Stevie talks about killing his ex-wife.
Stevie has a bit of a criminal record and the Big Brother tries to keep in touch with him. Stevie was in jail the next trip down to see him, for allegedly sexually assaulting a child, and the family is convinced that it’s a set-up by Stevie’s mother. This is all weird because the mother comes to see Stevie in prison, and we’re not sure the whole story is being told. The fiancé says she won’t let Stevie back into her house, but you can kind of tell she’s waffling about it.
Big Brother gets a phone call one day and Stevie is getting out of prison, but he wanted Big Brother to loan him a hundred dollars bail money to get out. But Big Brother’s wife won’t let him post bail for him. Eventually, the mother and/or grandmother post the bail and he gets out. Big Brother goes back to discuss what’s going to happen with the grandmother and explains why he didn’t give him the money and then discusses it with Stevie to see if he understands it all too. Big Brother finally gets to talk to Stevie’s mom and it doesn’t go all that well.
Big Brother recounts Stevie’s childhood, failed placements in group and foster homes and mental hospitals and behavior disorder schools and drug therapy. Clearly, Stevie loves his family and would do anything for them, however, they’re all mean to Stevie, and he’s mean right back. That’s how they operate. Really bizarre. He’s a super grudge-holder and makes his fiancé feel awful by saying her father isn’t going to be able to see their kids if they have some. They want to get married, but he’s not wearing a tux or a suit and he’s kind of an ass about it. They end up at a dance club in downtown Chicago and he gets all sloppy drunk and belligerent with his lady and dancing with random people. When he got back home to Pamona, he got more and more depressed and more troublesome and raises hell with the townspeople. Stevie pleads guilty to a child molestation charge and his racist friend tells him he’ll help him get into the Aryan Brotherhood in prison to keep everyone else for knifing him for molesting kids, and it’s pretty messed up.
This movie is super depressing. I mean gut-wrenchingly depressing. These people have given up on Stevie, on each other, and on life as a whole. Stevie’s friend flat out says it – it just doesn’t matter anymore. You feel bad for Stevie, but at the same time, you know how helpless and vulnerable he is. It’s a really good documentary and at the same time, it’s brutal. Big Brother asks Stevie and his family some difficult questions and gets to the heart of a lot of things. This film is not remotely uplifting in any way shape or form, but it’s really quite good. Are you supposed to feel bad for Stevie? Are you supposed to blame his family for raising him that way? Do you get mad at society for throwing him from foster home to group home? You’ll feel very conflicted watching this film, I can assure you that. And clocking in at over 2 hours, you’re going to be emotionally exhausted. Needless to say, NOT a date movie.
(4 out of 5 fus)