Saturday, January 14, 2017

Now on Netflix: Miss Stevens (2016)

Miss Stevens (2016) - Directed by Julia Hart; Written by Hart, Jordan Horowitz; Starring Lily Rabe, Timothee Chalamet, Lili Reinhart, Anthony Quintal, Oscar Nunez, Rob Huebel.

By Kenny Howell

Lily Rabe is fantastic in this independent drama about a teacher battling depression, and the students that accompany her on a class competition trip.

Rabe is the titular Miss Stevens, an English teacher who agrees to chaperone three kids to a drama competition. She is going through something, and Director Julia Hart doesn't really care too much about hammering home what it is, though it is addressed. She just lives in it with Stevens who just can't seem to shake it. She is trapped, much like the novel for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which her class discusses at the beginning of the film.

The kids that go along with her on the trip are Billy, Margot and Sam. Margot is the ace student, Sam is stereotypical gay art student, and Billy has issues of his own. Stevens is warned before they go that Billy is being allowed to go as a show of good faith. He is on his medication, and doing well, so they want to let him go compete, especially since he is really talented. It might be good for him to achieve something like that.

To its strength, Miss Stevens is not concerned in spelling everything out for you. We just go along with Stevens as she just lives with it. That is usually what depression is. We just cope with it on a daily basis, and hopefully, eventually things help it like therapy or sometimes just time. There is no big redeeming moments, just slight changes in how things go. I think Miss Stevens could have benefited from rounding out the Margot and Sam characters a bit more. However, its resolve to not fix everything makes it refreshing, a true look at what its like to be trapped.

Miss Stevens is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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