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Starlet (2012)

Sunday, 9. December 2012

Starlet
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, Asa Akira, Manuel Ferrara
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Jane (Dree Hemingway) and her dog Starlet live in the spare room of her best friend Melissa’s (Stella Maeve) and Melissa’s boyfriend Mikey’s (James Ransone) house. Since Mikey needs Jane’s room for shoots from time to time, she can’t really decorate it. So instead Jane heads to a couple of yard sales to pick up some smaller things. At Sadie’s (Besedka Johnson) she finds an old thermos that the old woman grumpily sells to her. As she gets home, though, Jane discovers a whole lot of money inside. As Sadie doesn’t accept returns, Jane tries to make up for it by running errands for her. And despite Sadie’s objections, she stays insistant and starts to get through to her.

Starlet was a wonderful film. Cast, characters, story, setting and cinematography all come perfectly together into a very touching and sweet film.

Starlet is set in the world of porno shoots and manages to look at this world with a not-uncritical but unhysterical eye. [Unfortunately in the audience discussion after the film, that point got a little derailed by a woman who maintained that Jane wasn't messed up enough because all those poor women working in porn are irrevocably destroyed with the first time they have sex in front of a camera. Or something.] They even have appearances by real-life porn actors Asa Akira and Manuel Ferrara (who are so famous, even I knew them before), adding another layer of credibility.

That setting is used nicely to complement and round off the characters. And Baker really has created wonderful characters in both Jane and Sadie who only seem stereotypical at the first glance and continue to become more throughout the entire film.

Something he wouldn’t have been able to do, of course, if it hadn’t been for Dree Hemingway and Besedka Johnson – both pretty much acting newcomers who are extremely and surprisingly good. They make their character’s friendship absolutely believable.

The cinematography by Radium Cheung was also really great. A bit lens-flare-y at times but it looked really nice and I really appreciated how they captured the area. Plus, they even managed to make Starlet – one of those small and pretty ugly dogs – look really cute.

Everything in this film just really fit together and clicked. Beautiful.

Summarising: Catch it if you can.

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