Movie Review: ‘Miss Stevens’ Is A Well-Constructed Movie With Good Acting

Review by Lauryn Angel

Miss Stevens is not the typical movie about teachers and students. Rachel Stevens (Lily Rabe) is a high school English teacher whose lessons seem to reveal more about herself to her students than about the books they’re reading. Although she seems put together on the outside, there are subtle indications that she is quietly falling apart – like the service light blinking on her car dashboard. The film focuses on her relationship with three students, whom she accompanies to a drama tournament. Margot (Lili Reinhart) is the type-A students who is intent on success and often is a more functional adult than her school-approved guardian. Sam (Anthony Quintal), is a fun character, but is, unfortunately, little more than a stereotypical gay character. Billy (Timothée Chalamet) is the stereotypical “troubled” character, and the most interesting of the students; it’s clear that he will be the one to draw Miss Stevens out, even as he resists her attempts to help him.

The film is very straight-forward, with no surprises. The characters learn lessons, but those lessons aren’t really meant for the viewers. Instead, the audience learns that teachers are just as flawed and damaged as their students. Miss Stevens seems to be waiting for that Great Teacher Moment, the one that is repeatedly glorified in the movies, and is repeatedly disappointed. When her moment does come, it’s rather small and anti-climactic – but it’s more realistic. Those small moments come more often in a teacher’s life than the big showy moments.

There’s nothing shocking here, just a well-constructed, well-acted film with a subtle performance from Lily Rabe.

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