By Justin Rawana
Written/Directed by: Sean Baker
Starring: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, and James Ransone
Written and directed by Sean Baker (Prince of Broadway, Tangerine), Starlet is a 2012 drama in which an unlikely friendship forms between 21 year-old Jane and the elderly Sadie after an incident at a garage sale. Sadie left the world behind a long time ago and spends her days alone in her garden or at the bingo hall, while Jane is a young LA beauty who totes over her Chihuahua, Starlet, and films adult features on the weekends.
An unlikely pair indeed.
The strength of the film lies in its cast. Dree Hemingway plays the amorphous Jane with the appropriate coolness, breezing from scene to sun-drenched scene in pastel colors and her eyes half open. The widow Sadie (played by the late Besedka Johnson in her final acting role) is the opposite – composed, prickly, and all too aware that she has many more days behind than in front. The film is at its best when the actresses share the same space, the secret of Jane’s intentions always present like a cannon ready to shatter the shaky truce at any moment.
In someone else’s hands the story is the stuff of outright comedy, but Baker imbues his script with enough small moments of genuine warmth and dilemma to elevate it above the usual “unlikely eccentrics” Hollywood pairs together year after year (Get Hard opens next week).
At its core, Starlet is about finding friendship and argues that whatever the circumstances, good or bad, they’re ultimately insignificant if the connection proves to be real.
Available on Fandor, ITunes, and Amazon Instant Video
Each week, Justin makes a recommendation for your next movie night. This is the third selection in a series.