Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Starlet

A powerful sense of place roots this film about the uneasy friendship between a 21-year-old and an octogenarian.

Nov 8, 2012

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1367168-Starlet_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A mismatched-friends drama whose overall sensitivity is belied by a couple of clumsily contrived plot points, Sean Baker's Starlet pairs story and setting perfectly and could shine in a short art-house run.

Set in a San Fernando Valley where, according to production designer Mari Yui and high-def DP Radium Cheung, primary colors simply do not exist, the film is as pale as its protagonist's blonde hair—distractingly so, though the look does suit a film about seeking connection in a soulless world.

Dree Hemingway plays Jane, a frighteningly skinny 21-year-old who finds $10,000 rolled up in a thermos bought at a yard sale. Conscience-struck, she tries to return the loot to the ornery 85-year-old who sold it to her, but Sadie (Besedka Johnson) won't even let her get a sentence out. "I told you, no refunds!" she shouts, slamming the door in Jane's face. Johnson is admirably committed to this sketchy premise, rebuffing Jane's inquiries with such baffling ferocity that the girl has to stalk her way into Sadie's life.

Hemingway finds soul in a vacant-looking character, a girl whose passive acceptance of the sleaze around her (like her drug-abusing roommates' lifestyle) makes her seem unlikely to pursue a friendship both challenging and far outside her world. "Starlet" is the name of Jane's Chihuahua, but the movie's title hints at the way Jane and her friends make their living; the script is slow to reveal details, but Baker's camera doesn't flinch when it's time to show the character going to work, and this part of Jane's life is a provocative counterpoint to scenes in which she ferries Sadie to the grocery store and sits playing Bingo with her.

The elder woman has her own secrets, and viewers may come to accept her initially outrageous behavior as a natural response to deep pain. But Starlet, thankfully, keeps armchair psychology to a minimum, and is best when these two women (and the dog) are alone in the frame, trying to be human beings in a place where humanity can be a liability.
—The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Starlet

A powerful sense of place roots this film about the uneasy friendship between a 21-year-old and an octogenarian.

Nov 8, 2012

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1367168-Starlet_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A mismatched-friends drama whose overall sensitivity is belied by a couple of clumsily contrived plot points, Sean Baker's Starlet pairs story and setting perfectly and could shine in a short art-house run.

Set in a San Fernando Valley where, according to production designer Mari Yui and high-def DP Radium Cheung, primary colors simply do not exist, the film is as pale as its protagonist's blonde hair—distractingly so, though the look does suit a film about seeking connection in a soulless world.

Dree Hemingway plays Jane, a frighteningly skinny 21-year-old who finds $10,000 rolled up in a thermos bought at a yard sale. Conscience-struck, she tries to return the loot to the ornery 85-year-old who sold it to her, but Sadie (Besedka Johnson) won't even let her get a sentence out. "I told you, no refunds!" she shouts, slamming the door in Jane's face. Johnson is admirably committed to this sketchy premise, rebuffing Jane's inquiries with such baffling ferocity that the girl has to stalk her way into Sadie's life.

Hemingway finds soul in a vacant-looking character, a girl whose passive acceptance of the sleaze around her (like her drug-abusing roommates' lifestyle) makes her seem unlikely to pursue a friendship both challenging and far outside her world. "Starlet" is the name of Jane's Chihuahua, but the movie's title hints at the way Jane and her friends make their living; the script is slow to reveal details, but Baker's camera doesn't flinch when it's time to show the character going to work, and this part of Jane's life is a provocative counterpoint to scenes in which she ferries Sadie to the grocery store and sits playing Bingo with her.

The elder woman has her own secrets, and viewers may come to accept her initially outrageous behavior as a natural response to deep pain. But Starlet, thankfully, keeps armchair psychology to a minimum, and is best when these two women (and the dog) are alone in the frame, trying to be human beings in a place where humanity can be a liability.
—The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Happy Christmas
Film Review: Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg's latest feature is a collection of strong individual scenes and performances that never quite finds its statement of purpose. More »

Very Good Girls
Film Review: Very Good Girls

More of a meandering, misguided path than a road to hell, Naomi Foner’s directing debut, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as 18-year-old BFFs, is similarly filled with good intentions. More »

The Kill Team
Film Review: The Kill Team

Marine Adam Winfield goes on trial in a case in which U.S. soldiers murdered innocent Afghanis. Strong subject marred by poor narrative choices. More »

The Divine Move
Film Review: The Divine Move

Excessive violence and off-the-wall plotting undermine an intriguing game-based premise. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Hercules
Film Review: Hercules

Legendary strongman is caught in the middle of a brutal civil war in a fast-paced vehicle for Dwayne Johnson. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here