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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Julia Hart|
|Music by||Rob Simonsen|
|Distributed by||The Orchard|
Miss Stevens is a 2016 American drama film directed by Julia Hart in her directorial debut, from a screenplay by Hart and Jordan Horowitz. The film stars Lily Rabe, Timothée Chalamet, Lili Reinhart, Anthony Quintal, Oscar Nunez, and Rob Huebel. The plot follows a teacher who chaperones a small group of high school students to a weekend state drama competition. The film had its world premiere at SXSW on March 12, 2016. The film was distributed in a limited release on September 16, 2016, before being released on video on demand on September 20, 2016, by The Orchard.
Rachel Stevens (Lily Rabe) is a 29-year-old high school English teacher who takes three of her students to a drama competition in California for the weekend. On Friday, she starts her day teaching her class discussing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest when one of her students Billy (Timothée Chalamet) interrupts the class to ask her for her opinion for the ending. After the class another student, Margot (Lili Reinhart) goes over the itinerary for the weekend. After their meeting, she talks to Billy about a makeup test that he hasn't taken yet. Later, she meets with the principal of the school (Oscar Nunez) to discuss how the weekend will go, primarily about Billy since he is on medication for an unmentioned behavioral disorder. She then leaves for the competition with Billy, Margot, and a third student Sam (Anthony Quintal).
During the car ride, her car's tire pops and she calls for roadside assistance, which then leads her getting a new tire. Afterward, a song plays on the radio that both Rachel and Billy like, which leads them to sing it together, annoying Margot. They arrive at the competition late and check into their rooms before heading out for dinner and orientation for the competition. During a mixer, Rachel meets another teacher from a different school Walter (Rob Huebel). They talk about the urge to have sex, despite him having a wife and then proceed to have sex in his hotel room. During this, Billy is shown to hang out with himself, mainly eating snacks in a hallway of the hotel. As Rachel is back in her room, she recites lessons, watches movies and looks at old text messages from her deceased mother.
The next day, Rachel goes to a car mechanic and Billy insists on joining her while the other two students rehearse their monologues. After being told her car needs to be repaired, she and Billy talk and bond together about them not having many friends. They then have lunch together. When they get back to the hotel, Sam asks where they were, particularly Billy since he wasn't rehearsing with everyone else. During the first round of competition, Margot goes first and panics while giving her monologue from A Streetcar Named Desire. She runs into the bathroom and Rachel follows her. Rachel comforts Margot telling her that everything will be okay, not at the moment but later on. Margot then tells Rachel that her parents paid for the entire trip with the chance they win, their school can put on a play. During dinner, Margot suggests that Rachel get the number of the waiter serving, which she doesn't want to. Billy asks Margot to leave her alone, but calls her by her first name, in which she leaves. Back at the hotel, Rachel visits Walter and attempts to hang out with him, but he is disinterested and she leaves. Billy then visits her room and apologizes for dinner. He then proceeds to run around the hallway and then into Rachel's room, in which they hang out. Rachel then confides in Billy about her favorite memory about her mother, and Billy comforts Rachel. After this confession, she tells Billy to leave. Sam then comes in, followed by Margot. Sam tells everyone about an encounter with a boy he met up with during the competition who stood him up. Rachel tells him that they are there for him, which prompts Billy to leave.
On Sunday, Billy gives his monologue from Death of a Salesman, which gains a positive response from the audience. After the round, Billy tells Rachel that he is nervous and that he is off his medication. Rachel is then concerned for Billy and calls the principal about it. She then goes outside and sees Walter, smoking a cigarette. They talk about their jobs, particularly about how he doesn't care about his students' personal lives, which Rachel disagrees with him. The awards are then presented and Billy gets second place. As they prepare to leave, a boy comes up to the car and asks for Sam, which then leads them to a possible relationship. On the car ride back to the school, Rachel forgets about the test and stop at a mini mart for Billy to take, with Margot and Sam being the moderators for it. Rachel gives him a B-. Back at the school, Rachel suggests that Billy talk to his parents about his medication or to see a therapist. Billy then suggests the same for Rachel.
In February 2013, it was announced that Ellen Page would direct the film, in her directorial debut, from a screenplay by Julia Hart, with Anna Faris attached to star in the film as a teacher. It was also announced that the film would be produced by Gilbert Films and Anonymous Content, Gary Gilbert and Jordan Horowitz producing in representation of Gilbert Films and Doug Wald producing in representation of Anonymous Content. Nicole Romano and Trevor Adley are executive producers representing Anonymous Content. In May 2015, Anthony Quintal announced via his YouTube channel that he had been cast in the film.
In an interview, Quintal later said that Julia Hart had approached him and said "I just know that you are perfect for this role. I have been looking for someone to play this role for so long. I came across you and your videos recently and thought, 'This is it. He is the one.'" In June 2015, it was announced that Lily Rabe, Timothée Chalamet, Lili Reinhart, and Rob Huebel had all been cast in the film, with Rabe replacing Faris. It was also announced Julia Hart, who wrote the screenplay, would make her directorial debut, replacing Page.
The film had its world premiere at SXSW on March 12, 2016. Shortly after, The Orchard acquired distribution rights to the film. The film was released in a limited release on September 16, 2016, before being released through video on demand on September 20, 2016.
Stephen Holden of the New York Times classifies this film as a 'NYT Critic's Pick,' describing it as Hart's "modest, warmhearted directorial debut..." He says that Rabe has a "beautifully balanced performance."
Miss Stevens received positive reviews from film critics. It holds an 89% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 65 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|2016||South by Southwest||Grand Jury Award - Narrative Feature||Julia Hart||Nominated|||
|South by Southwest||Special Jury Recognition for Best Actress||Lily Rabe||Won|||