Films: Starlet

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USA, 2012, 104 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subject: Drama
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Sean Baker
Producer: Blake Ashman-Kipervaser, Kevin Chinoy, Francesca Silvestri, Patrick Cunningham, Chris Maybach
Editor: Sean Baker
Screenwriter: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cinematographer: Radium Cheung
Principal Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, Karren Karagulian

Jane, a rootless young woman newly relocated to California’s San Fernando Valley, spends her days hanging out with her hosts, smoking pot, playing video games, and taking care of her dog, Starlet. At a garage sale, she unearths more than she bargains for, buying a thermos from a crotchety old woman named Sadie—only to find $10,000 in it later. She does what any good Valley Girl would do: she goes shopping, though it doesn’t take long for her to feel remorse. But when Jane tries to return the thermos and what’s left of the money, the woman drives her off. Only by staging casual meetings with Sadie does Jane get the chance to pay it back, sometimes just by sharing a bingo table, sometimes by covering expenses. Jane’s odd wooing of the cranky Sadie plays off against a midpoint revelation about the young woman’s choice of career, which includes an explicit sex scene. Her vapid persona and vacant stare now make more sense, as does her attraction to the reluctant 85-year-old object of her largesse, who eventually, wordlessly reveals her own need for connection.

Director Sean Baker (The Prince of Broadway) brings a lonely setting and a washed-out look to a story that’s part morality tale, part slice of life. A standout performance by Dree Hemingway, great-granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway and daughter of Mariel Hemingway (Star 80), carries much of the story in this, her first film.


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