“I was much too far out all my life / And not waving, but drowning.”
Response to Peary’s Review:
I knew nothing at all about Stevie Smith before renting this movie — indeed, I hadn’t even heard of her — but quickly became interested in both her work and her life, primarily due to Jackson’s skillfully nuanced performance. She utilizes a series of self-conscious vocal modulations and subtle facial gestures (such as nose sniffs and tongue-against-teeth movements) to portray Stevie’s unique mixture of humility, melancholy, and quietly adventurous spirit — and while she talks far too much, her performance never falters.
Unfortunately, not every aspect of the film works: the flashbacks to Stevie’s childhood seem out of place; the script is far too stagy; and the strange role of Smith’s friend “The Man” (played by Trevor Howard) should have been cut altogether. Monologic plays ultimately work better on the small screen — I was reminded, for instance, of Eileen Atkins one-woman portrait of Virginia Woolf in A Room of One’s Own (1990). With that said, however, fans of this type of movie will doubtless enjoy it, and should seek it out.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: