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Parents' Guide to

Stephanie Daley

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Sobering infanticide drama is too much for kids.

Movie R 2007 91 minutes
Stephanie Daley Poster Image

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Swinton tackles her role with a very effective light touch, giving it that much more heft. But it's Tamblyn who impresses. A TV actress who's made the occasional foray into film, she infuses a difficult, potentially alienating role with heartbreaking grace. In the hands of someone less skilled, Stephanie could have been a screeching cautionary tale. But here, she's at once abominable and humane, both guilty and innocent. When an older boy manipulates her into having sex and she later gives birth to the baby produced by that shockingly cold act, her anguish is tangible. And profoundly moving.

In STEPHANIE DALEY, Brougher has fashioned an intelligent movie that easily could have been mined simply for its shock value. She's refreshingly unafraid of ambiguity. But the film's potency is diluted by one too many portentous moments: the depressingly dark rooms, the dripping blood (not just from the birth scene), a classroom discussion of The Scarlet Letter, a deer caught literally in the headlights. Also, her superficial attempts to examine the role religion plays in the tragedy confuse rather than enhance the film. Still, a movie that tackles a lightning-rod subject without judgment and with deep compassion is a rarity to be savored.

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