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

If You Don't., I Will
Film Review: If You Don't, I Will

Anemic drama about a forever-bickering couple who do not at all get along nor emit a scintilla of chemistry. It’s a disappointing, too-lean portrait of a marriage. More »

Mr. Turner
Film Review: Mr. Turner

In Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, arguably the year’s most gorgeous film, Timothy Spall etches an indelible portrait of the great painter, aided by a marvelous supporting cast who make the period spring alive. More »

Goodbye to All That
Film Review: Goodbye to All That

Angus MacLachlan’s debut feature is a small, skillfully made character piece that deftly weaves comedy and drama into an entertaining whole. More »

Song of the Sea
Film Review: Song of the Sea

A bratty boy and his mute, possibly magical sister journey through a world of fairies and wonders in this alluring selkie tale from the maker of The Secret of Kells. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. 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