When her parents are nothing but white trash slackers, young Stevie realizes she has to do something about her life. She has to grow up, something her parents never did, and do it all on her own to ultimately be able to get away from the life her family is living.
The movie shows us a very clever and mature young girl named Stevie (not sure about her exact age). Stevie is living with her parents, two criminal slackers who deal and do drugs. Stevie is much more mature than her two parents but haven't been able to leave. Now she realizes that it's time - it's time to get away from the bad life that she is forced to live, with abuse and bad parenting. She builds up strength and motivation to finally get out of there.
Director and writer Pia Marais drew a lot of inspiration from her own life when she made this. I don't know how big of a difference that makes but if there's one thing I reacted to with "The Unpolished" it was that it's not just about "look how bad these parents are", but you could actually feel there was a chemistry between them. They might've been terrible parents but at least the feeling that they were parents was present and that's very interesting I think. A more obvious route to go for films like this have always been to make them out to be monsters so that the final escape feels a lot better.
The movie isn't really depressing or even very sad, it feels very natural because it's just there. It happens. We don't question it, and it's not over-the-top. Some violent scenes, and some sexual content but not at all disturbing. It's not about that. But sex and abuse is around the little girl, which of course is horrible, but it never becomes exploitation or shocking. The story of Stevie is not about that at all, it's a coming-of-age story if anything, and that's exactly what makes the movie worth watching. It doesn't offer much originality but if you like films about white trash living, and that one person who is better than the surroundings, then "The Unpolished" wouldn't be a bad addition to your collection.