Justine is a tightly wound story about grief and healing from writer and director Stephanie Turner. Turner also stars in the film.
Justine (Daisy Prescott) is a young girl with spina bifida. Justine is in need of a new nanny just as Lisa Wade (Stephanie Turner) is scrabbling for a new job.
Lisa’s husband died, we aren’t sure how at first. She’s grieving and frustrated by the lack of results in the investigation into his death.
Lisa moved in with her father-in-law, Papa Don (Glynn Turman). She isolates herself in the garage and finds it hard to interact with her two kids. She’s forbidden them to talk about their dad.
Drew (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) and Maya (Bridget Kallal) are Lisa’s kids. When she gets a job taking care of Justine, Papa Don is left with all the child care for his two grandkids.
Caring for Justine and dealing with the girl’s parents while she’s also dealing with the investigators working on her husband’s death finally breaks through Lisa’s blocked up grief process.
Darby Stanchfield and Josh Stamberg play Justine’s parents. They are over scheduled workaholics and have racist attitudes toward Lisa’s kids and father-in-law.
Lisa argues with them about Justine’s care. That fact that she cares about anything other than her husband’s case enough to argue with strangers is the first crack in Lisa’s grief.
First time director Stephanie Turner took on a lot with this film. She wrote, directed, produced and starred in it. And she was working with 3 kids. Her directing choices were intimate and close. Her acting was closed-in and full of pain. She’s a nuanced actor with the ability to say a lot with her expressions.
Turner created a sympathetic look at a two struggling families and gave it emotional resonance. Grief affected every character in this film, in one way or another.
I’m looking forward to seeing whatever Stephanie Turner wants to do next.
The film is distributed by ARRAY and is currently streaming on Netflix.
Have a look at the trailer.
If you watch this intimate family story, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.