stormy 2024 movie review

In 2018, a predictable narrative emerged from right-leaning circles regarding Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford. Portrayed with disdain as a mere “porn star,” Daniels was vilified as an opportunist fabricating tales about President Trump. It seemed she was enjoying her newfound fame, engaging with trolls on social media, making appearances on Saturday Night Live, and embarking on a tour titled “Make America Horny Again.”

However, any notion that Daniels’ ongoing saga with the 45th President has benefited her life is dispelled in Sarah Gibson’s new documentary, “Stormy,” premiering at SXSW before its March 18 release on Peacock. Daniels’ reflections on how her newfound notoriety shattered her marriage, entangled her with attention-seeking opportunists, brought death threats, and ultimately rendered her unemployable, provide a poignant narrative thread. Mischaracterized as a political figure, she emerges as a woman who sought to embrace her truth but paid a steep price. It’s a poignant and powerful narrative.

Regrettably, the documentary’s exhaustive rehashing of familiar events, coupled with an overreliance on poorly integrated footage from a prior ethically compromised project, left me more annoyed than moved by “Stormy,” despite its compelling central figure.

Gibson admirably traces Daniels’ personal journey from a challenging upbringing in Baton Rouge to her early experiences in exotic dancing and subsequent success in the adult entertainment industry.

The documentary recounts Daniels’ initial encounters with Trump and their lone sexual encounter, with hints of humor but mostly a matter-of-fact tone borne of years of repetition. However, the overuse of lackluster reenactments and repetitive storytelling diminishes the impact.

The detailed month-by-month account of 2018 becomes monotonous, despite behind-the-scenes footage providing occasional insight. However, the revelation of an affair between Daniels and a journalist working on another documentary presents a significant ethical quandary, underscoring the documentary’s flawed approach.

While the filmmaker’s ethical lapses aren’t directly Gibson’s fault, her failure to address the source of crucial footage undermines the documentary’s integrity. The film’s lackluster visuals and editing further detract from its impact.

The documentary’s rushed conclusion, focusing on Daniels’ present-day struggles and reflections, proves more compelling than its earlier segments. Had the film centered solely on Daniels’ current experiences, it could have been more authentic and engaging.

In essence, “Stormy” falls short of its potential due to its mishandling of source material and failure to fully explore its subject’s story.