Big Brothering
Review by Ross Anthony

Stevie From the director of "Hoop Dreams" comes "Stevie." This time life is the sport, and the odds of victory seem stacked against Stevie.

Compelling, while at the same time off-putting, the documentary presents what seems to be a sincere and boldly honest glimpse into the life one Stevie Dale Fielding. Some ten years prior, the filmmaker (Steve James) offered himself as a big brother to the then troubled youth Stevie. This film is James' return to the rural American town and his "younger brother" all grown up and into even bigger trouble.

You'll be amazed how the relatives involved all seem to speak candidly about incredibly difficult, embarrassing, and potentially damaging subject matter -- specifically, but not limited to, child abuse. Struggling with his guilt for discontinuing as a big brother all those years ago, and contemplating just what role he should play in Stevie's current predicaments, James becomes a subject in his own documentary. I spoke with Steve James after viewing the reel. Click here for that interview.

Despite the coarse topics, this piece is constructed well and with sincerity, and expands with surprising breadth. My only criticism would be regarding the use of slow motion. It subtracts from the overall honesty of the documentary. Its use here is thankfully minimal.

Subjecting such a serious work to a grading system seems inappropriate -- so I won't.

[Interview with director Steve James]

  • Stevie. Copyright © 2002.
  • Starring Stephen Dale Fielding, Verna Hagler, Bernice Hagler, Brenda & Doug Hickam, Tonya Gregory.
  • Directed by Steve James.
  • Produced by Steve, Adam Singer, Gordon Quinn at Katemquin/SenArt.

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:54:26 PDT