Stephanie Daley
Starring Tilda Swinton, Amber Tamblyn, and Timothy Hutton
Release Date: DVD on September 4, 2007

Watching the film Stephanie Daley is very much like looking into nature—its beauty and complexity lie underneath its seeming simplicity. On the surface, it seems like another tale of the perils of teen pregnancy, yet what makes Hilary Brougher’s film (which won the Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival) different from preachy Lifetime Channel melodrama is its brutal honesty and portrayal of the fragile human condition that’s both heartbreaking yet relatable.

Amber Tamblyn (from Joan of Arcadia) plays Stephanie Daley, known as the shy 16-year-old “ski mom.” After being accused of killing her newborn during a ski trip, she maintains her innocence, claiming the baby came out as stillborn. It is up to Forensic Psychologist Lydie Crane, played by the brilliant Tilda Swinton, to find out the truth.

The movie has human aspects that are refreshing, but borderline cringeworthy, such as the party scenes in particular that perfectly portray those awkward teen years we wish to forget. Sporting a terrible makeover of purple eyeshadow and a midriff-baring top, Stephanie awkwardly wanders around, observing the drunk party revelers and trying hard to fit in. It is here she meets Corey, the older boy that subsequently gets her pregnant, despite departing with the words “I didn’t come.” She naively lets him do as he pleases, which is even harder to watch given that many of us have made such mistakes just to feel desirable.

Stephanie Daley is an intelligent film, made up by the intense bond between Tamblyn and Swinton, that helps convey the overall message of the film: that the female experience bonds all women together.