Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 1st, 2003
I can sum up my feelings about the documentary “Stevie” with one word; “uneven”. Some portions of the film are surprising, touching and moving. Other portions, however, leave the viewer feeling a little sick, wondering how anyone could feel sorry for a person as desperately evil as Stevie.
In the end, all of the various problems with this film rest solely on the shoulders of its director. By bringing cameras into Stevie’s world, he has colored it, and made it something different than what it would otherwise…be. One of the greatest challenges facing documentary directors is the issue of how to capture the story while not affecting its outcome. James ignores this issue completely, however, and eagerly thrusts himself in front of the camera, actively engaging himself in the lives of his subjects.
This is a strangely compelling film, if not for the subject matter, than for the clinic on how NOT to do a documentary.
Viewers have just one audio option available to them in Dolby Stereo 2.0. The track is very heavy on dialog, as would be expected for a documentary piece. This is not a film that was intended to sound great, and there is virtually nothing for your subwoofer to do. The audio track gets the job done, however, which is really all we can ask. Actually, it is probably a bit on the good side, considering the fact that much of the dialog was recorded with a hand held unit, live and on the shoot.
The video quality presented on this disc is unfortunately quite poor. While some scenes look decent, blemishes are apparent throughout the film. Especially bad are the night scenes, which are hard to see and quite grainy. Problems with spots on the lens and some shaky handheld footage make this a very un-polished presentation.
Another annoying problem with the picture is the appearance of the microphone in the frame throughout the film. I counted no less than three instances of the microphone wondering down from the upper part of the frame, and one instance of the actual Sound Man himself. I understand that this is a documentary shot on location, but I would like to think that some of these errors could have been prevented with better editing.
There are just a few special features on this disc. The theatrical trailer is here, as well as trailers for the Lion’s Gate documentaries “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and “Dr. Death”. Also included are five deleted scenes that were obviously deleted for a reason. Finally, we have a marginally interesting commentary track, which seems a bit redundant to me, since the whole of the feature itself is narrated by the director.
Having completed this film, I find myself torn. On the one hand, I find myself genuinely concerned with Stevie. I feel bad for him, and have a strong desire to help him become more than he is. On the other hand, Steve Jones has presented his story in such a way as to make me feel badly for the child molesting mental midget. This film is definitely worth watching as a study in documentary styles, but if you are looking for an unbiased presentation of the life of Stephen Fielding, you will not find it here.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- Audio Commentary