Decided to see Sean Baker's previous work to get myself prepared for his recent film out in cinemas now 'The Florida Project'. Seeing 2012's 'Starlet' first up has gotten me even more psyched, because while not quite perfect 'Starlet' was a very impressive little film deserving to be better known. It may not be for everybody's tastes, but even with Baker's style and direction no being familiar to me it was hard not to fall under its spell.
A few of the plot twists in 'Starlet' are perhaps executed a little too neatly and while the ending is very poignant it's slightly on the abrupt side as well. That's it though for the minor faults that are eclipsed by everything else that is done right. While it may take some getting used to for some, the sunny and slightly bleached colours and slightly off-kilter but very naturalistic filming (that's very evocative and not amateurish like it can be easily mistaken as).
'Starlet' really stands out in the writing, with a great balance of funny comedy, charming warmth, understated sweetness and touching drama. The story likewise, it really made me feel warm inside, it made me laugh, it surprised me, it charmed me and it moved me. It is easy for anybody to feel that the more explicit content is gratuitous, not to me, instead it felt sensual and real with an ability to shock that just added another layer to the drama.
Baker's direction is adroit and he paces everything beautifully. The portrayal of an unlikely relationship is executed in a way that makes one laugh, cry and think.
Can't say anything bad about the performances either, with a deservedly star-making lead performance from Dree Hemingway, who really is one to watch for anybody else unfamiliar to her before watching. The spikiness and vulnerability of that of Besedka Johnson makes one wonder how she wasn't discovered sooner (it is just as sad too that she died not long after the film's release). The dog Boonee as the titular character is absolutely adorable.
In conclusion, a lovely film that shines brightly. 8/10 Bethany Cox
Action / Drama
Action / Drama
STARLET explores the unlikely cross-generational friendship between 21 year-old Jane (Dree Hemingway), and the elderly Sadie (Besedka Johnson), two women whose worlds collide in California's San Fernando Valley. Jane, an aspiring actress, spends her time getting high with her dysfunctional roommates, Melissa and Mikey (Stella Maeve and James Ransone), while caring for her Chihuahua, Starlet. Sadie, a widow, passes her days alone, tending to her flower garden. After a confrontation between the women at Sadie's yard sale, Jane uncovers a hidden stash of money inside a relic from Sadie's past. Jane attempts to befriend the caustic older woman in an effort to solve her dilemma and secrets emerge as their relationship grows. Director Sean Baker continues in the naturalistic style of his previous films, the award-winning and Spirit Award nominees PRINCE OF BROADWAY and TAKE OUT, capturing the rhythms of everyday life with an authenticity rarely seen in cinema. Featuring a pair of ...
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April 29, 2013 at 04:11 AM