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Starlet | Review

What would you do if you found a stash of cash and you thought you knew who it belonged to?  This is the moral question that is explored in Sean Baker’s Starlet (follow-up to the acclaimed Prince of Broadway),

In this movie we meet 21-year-old Jane (Dree Hemingway) who strikes up an unusual friendship with an 85-year-old Sadie (Besedka Johnson).   The two women’s worlds collide in California’s San Fernando Valley when Jane buys a thermos from Sadie’s yard sale.  When Jane gets the thermos home, she uncovers a significant hidden stash of money inside this relic from Sadie’s past. Jane attempts to befriend the caustic older woman in an effort to solve her predicament about whether she should return the money or not and as their relationship grows, secrets emerge.

This movie does a reasonable job of exploring the moral question at the core of the movie and begs the viewer at times to pass judgment and even question our own morals.  However when it comes to the exploration of the cross-generational friendship between these two unlikely women, the relationship simmers a little too slowly for the first two thirds of the movie and never really comes to a boil.  There is little payoff at the end and not much to hold on to along the way with respect to the friendship which seems at times a little contrived and even marginally overacted

As the movie progresses, we get to see how Jane really earns her money and meet her dysfunctional roommates, Melissa (Stella Maeve) and Mikey (James Ransone) along with other salacious characters along the way.  I give props to Baker for attempting to explore the underbelly of the sex industry, however this seems in complete dichotomy to the core theme of the movie and hence makes for a movie which seems all too choppy and uncohesive.   Overall the viewer is left not knowing what the goal of the movie is or how we should be feeling about what is going on at any given time.

Hemingway (daughter of Mariel and great-granddaughter of Ernest) gives a satisfactory performance but clearly is still green.  The tenderest moments of the movie come from the adorable relationship between Jane and her delightful Chihuahua Starlet who is clearly the star of this movie and worth watching for.

Starlet is Directed by Sean Baker and written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch
 and Stars Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve and James Ransone

Starlet opens in theatres on November 9th 2012 at the Sundance Cinema Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, Laemmle’s Town Center 5 in Encino, and the Regal University Town Center in Irvine.  Check local listings for availability and showtimes

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