I found out about Miss Stevens when I was chilling in my best friend’s room. She was scrolling through Netflix trying to find a movie she could watch before bed. She paused on this movie in the “Drama” category and the picture faded onto the screen. I saw that the screen capture from the movie had Lily Rabe, Lili Reinhart, and Timothée Chalamet in it.
I knew Lily Rabe from American Horror Story. I liked her acting style in that show, why not this one? Lili Reinhart is best known from portraying Betty Cooper in Riverdale, which is exactly where I know her from. And I discovered Timothee Chalamet where most people discovered Timothée Chalamet, as Elio in Call Me By Your Name.
I love a good movie with teenage characters struggling with teenage problems. My biggest gripe with movies for adults is that the problems are often so out of reach. Like, my husband is in the mafia, or my best friend was abducted by a serial killer, or my boss is actually a sociopath. Those just don’t resonate with me at this particular stage of my life. I have pedestrian problems like a high schooler. I want to work with high schoolers for the rest of my life. Movies often tell truth, and I find this genre does so exceptionally.
I decided to watch the film the night of Christmas Eve, after my family had left for the night. Once I started it, I was hooked. I love that it centered around a teacher, and at that, a teacher who was dealing with the struggles of being a teacher in the modern day. The only gripe I had about it was that no teacher would ever be allowed to transport students in their personal vehicle. At least ones that are not related to her. This is for the protection of the teacher as well as the student. We don’t need any lawsuits.
I also thought it was amazing that Miss Stevens (the character) was the adviser of a club that she knew little about. She was just advising so it wouldn’t die, which is respectable. She takes these three kids to a theater tournament… thing… I wasn’t really paying attention to that part of the plot, just that the group was on a trip together in their teacher’s car. Not weird at all.
Realistically, as revealed by Lili’s character, Margot, the club was essentially already dead. It was her parents that paid for the trip. She was putting all her eggs in this basket not because of her own acting talent, but because of the acting talent of her classmate, Billy (portrayed by Timothée). He could move an audience with his acting, and he was just so technically and emotionally good that she could not stand to have the club die. She believed that if Billy won this competition, the arts programs in their school may receive funding again. We never find out if this is the case, but I think it is heartwarming that a high school student would want another person to succeed so fully.
My favorite scene in the film was the section when Billy and Miss Stevens are in her hotel room. Yes, I know, this could have turned bad really quickly, but it didn’t. As a teacher, we take so many precautions to make sure our names aren’t tarnished. By doing so, I believe that we hinder our ability to make many meaningful connections with our teenage students who are just looking for someone to understand them. Billy was doing this in this scene. He was also trying to cheer up his teacher and form a bond with her. Given, it is obvious and clear as day that this young man has a serious crush on his teacher. That does not have to be a fact that stops her from getting to know him and let him get to know her. You just have to know the boundaries and make sure you don’t cross any fine lines.
I think it was okay for her to share the story of her mother dying with him, especially since she felt comfortable to do so. He was able to get an insight into her life and into what real life could be like. The moment wasn’t “ruined” when the other classmates came into the room, it was enhanced. The kids are able to bond with their teacher and talk about what their experience at this competition has been like.
I don’t do this film justice, and I never will. You, whoever you are, should go and watch this movie. It is currently on Netflix. It has opened my eyes and really helped me solidify parts of my opinion on what a good teacher should be.