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      Stephanie Daley

      2006, Drama, 1h 31m

      50 Reviews 25,000+ Ratings

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      Critics Consensus

      The premise has all the trappings of melodrama, but the excellent performances give the characters complexity and empathy. Read critic reviews

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      Stephanie Daley  Photos

      Movie Info

      Forensic psychologist Lydie Crane (Tilda Swinton), who once had a stillbirth and is pregnant again, takes on a personally difficult case. She must examine Stephanie Daley (Amber Tamblyn), a teenager who is about to stand trial for the murder of her newborn. Flashbacks reveal Stephanie's past, as the teen recounts her version of events leading to her pregnancy, her labor and her infant's death.

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      Critic Reviews for Stephanie Daley

      Audience Reviews for Stephanie Daley

      • Oct 22, 2009

        I got that happy feeling that I get once in awhile when I see an outstanding movie that reaffirms my love of film. Quite a feat considering the heavy subject matter. Simply brilliant performances by Tilda Swinton and Amber Tamblyn. Writer/director Hilary Brougher treats the subject matter with incredible sensitivity and paints everything with shades of grey. Excellent supporting cast as well. It was interesting to see comedian Jim Gaffigan take on a serious role as Stephanie's father. Also noteable is Academy Award nominee Melissa Leo as Stephanie's mother. It was just lovely to see such complex roles created for women.

        Super Reviewer
      • Jan 20, 2009

        There are films that you watch for sheer entertainment. One's that afford you an hour and a half of escapism, returning you safely to reality with a happy conclusion and the rolling of the credits. This is not one of those films. <i>Stephanie Daley</i> is a snippet of adolescent reality presented without embellishment or agenda. It's exceptionally written, superbly cast and, due to it's content, damn hard to watch.

        Super Reviewer
      • Dec 07, 2008

        Every now and then, a small film that comes out of nowhere (read : out of Sundance) arrives and blows you away. Stephanie Daley is that film. What makes it so successful is that Hilary Brougher's masterful film plays the honesty card instead of humping the melodramatic trappings. Don't get me wrong : it's utterly joyless, and more than once there are women that break down and cry. But the strength of the subject matter mixed with the enormous empathy for both its lead characters never, ever pull down the film-- the writing ensures that we constantly want to know more, and the directing gives us plenty of insight into Stephanie and Lydie's lives. Oddly enough, not too much is spoken-- before THE horrific event, Stephanie's only tragedy was that she used to be sadly ordinary. Lydie's pregnancy is narratively unimportant, but the weight it occupies in the film is tremendous. With just a quick closeup or by staging perfectly normal happenings, Brougher leads us right at the core of two brilliant character studies. Sure, Stephanie's story seems to change slightly every time she shows up for forensic analysis. Down the line, we have to wonder: has the event made her insane... or is she just a teen? When so much of your daily existence, navigating teachers, friends, boys, parents-- all of which are wisely shown just enough of to humanize Stephanie, without ever explaining her-- revolves around pretending to be something and/or someone you're not, it takes a certain kind of skill to unpeel your layers and know which ones to throw out. Also : the ending is perfectly delivered. No icing on the cake here-- the final words resonate along with the music, and haunt you like the rest of the film. Obviously, the film would not have worked as well as it did without the immense power of the performances. Starting with the fantastic-as-ever Swinton, who brings a mesmerizing intimacy to her role, the characters are so well-written that only pros could handle them. Tamblyn, one of the most engaging actresses of her generation, makes her character almost simultaneously embody pain, terror, anguish, embarrassment, regret and just about any emotion you can think of-- it's not an easy task, especially when those grueling feelings are far from externalized. She succeeds, and knocks it out of the park without acting up a storm. I raise my hat-- this is, hands down, one of the best performances I've seen in my life, and Stephanie wouldn't even qualify as the lead character. People will surely talk about the labor scene... of course, it's as gut wrenching and emotionally draining as anything I've ever seen. But the takeaway image of the scene (and, come to think of it, the film itself) is a long, agonizing shot of Amber Tamblyn's face, seen through the cracks between the wall and door of a public restroom stall. If you walked into the theater by mistake during that shot, you'd think you'd stepped into a horror film. When you fully grasp the weight of what Brougher has put her heroine through, you realise that you're not far off from a horror movie.

        Super Reviewer
      • Nov 19, 2008

        Very well done movie. I felt a lot of sympathy for what Stephanie must have been through and the consequences of her actions. Tidla Swinton is also very good in this.

        Super Reviewer

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