Stevie is a well-acted and literate, but also talky and claustrophobic screen biography of British poet and novelist Stevie Smith. Glenda Jackson stars in the title role and her performance – in fact, the entire style of the film – seems better suited to the stage than the big screen.
Robert Enders, who directed from Hugh Whitemore’s script of his own play, has adopted a visual style better suited to a telefilm than a theatrical feature. Most of the picture takes place inside a suburban residence Smith shared with her aunt, portrayed by Mona Washbourne in a charming and sympathetic performance.
By limiting the action to that one setting the film becomes stifling. Too much of Smith’s life is described by Jackson in reminiscenses to her aunt, confessions into the camera, or recitations of her poetry, rather than re-enacted.
Only other characters are Alec McCowen as a boyfriend of Jackson and Trevor Howard as companion who also comments on the poet’s life and work.