In 1995, director Steve James (of 'Hoop Dreams') returned to rural Southern Illinois to reconnect with Stevie Fielding, a troubled young boy to whom he had been an "Advocate Big Brother" ten years earlier.
He began a film, a search, to discover not only what had happened to Stevie over the past ten years but to understand the forces that had shaped his entire life. Part way through the filming, Stevie is arrested and charged with a serious crime that tears his family apart. What was to be a modest profile turns into a intimate four and half year chronicle of Stevie, his broken family, the criminal justice system and the filmmaker himself, as they all struggle with what Stevie has done and who he has become.Written by
It's interesting to read peoples' reviews of this. There definitely seems to be the either love it or hate it perspective going on. I found the film to not be defined that easily however, which I think contributes to its effectiveness. It's complicated, and I found myself changing my mind on many of the film's points throughout the film and even now, after seeing the film a week ago. Many have criticized the director's perceived exploitation of Stevie. I don't see it that way. I see it as honest. James indicates early on that when Stevie was assigned to him, he wished he would have gotten a kid that he shared common interests with or could at least identify with better. It takes guts to admit that. That's honest. The fact is he stuck it out with Stevie, and did the best he could. It appears later in the film he might have abandon Stevie, but - it is a fact of life that sometimes things like that happen without a reason. I think throughout the film James was trying to walk the line of what was best for Stevie and most appropriate as far as his involvement with Stevie and his family. Sure there is a question as to how Stevie benefits from this film - will it make his life better? Probably not. Will it make a difference a few years from now? Probably not. I was fascinated by the film and its ability to shift my emotions so dramatically. I think the fact it does not answer the questions makes it more compelling. You actually have to think about it yourself.
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