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Andrew W. Walker,
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A sports photographer in rural Canada sends a picture of a high school athlete, Tina Menzhal, to a Montréal fashion agency. This starts Tina on a career taking her from Canada to Paris to Montréal again, to Manhattan, to the world, and then home, through two boyfriends, two husbands, and innumerable TV interviews, either with nasty smiling scandalmongers or with gushing witless twits. In nearly every case, Tina never gets to finish a sentence. She has a suave agent, paparazzi are everywhere ("What the celebs forget, there's always a camera," says one), and a documentary filmmaker is on hand as well. What is it that Tina thinks, feels, and wants: will we ever find out? Written by
Virtually every shot of Jessica Pare is a broadcast or reflected image: she is seen in video clips, on the monitor of cameras, reflected in mirrors, glimpsed through glass, or in still photos, but never directly. See more »
During Tina's first fashion show, the "Victoria's Secret" lettering can be seen against the back drop of the curtain as the models begin to walk towards the stage. See more »
The cult of celebrity and beauty is exposed in the blackest humor by Denys Arcand with the hysterical Stardom. Jessica Pare as Tina Menzel is a vacuous beauty who is never allowed to be more than a pretty face and sexy body. A cast of mostly Canadian actors, Dan Ackroyd (SNL), Thomas Gibson (Dahrma and Greg), and newcomer Pare are cast to perfection in a scathing parody of entertainment television, expose documentaries, fashion television, and talk shows. Frank Langella (HBO Unscripted) portrays stuffy Blaine De Castillion, an aging minor diplomat who marries a trophy wife only to be thrown over by her for yet another monosyllabic athletic type.
Tina is the young victim of her own beauty and presented as an uneducated, unsophisticated, and naive girl swept into the heights of celebrity solely by the manipulation of her stunning face and figure. She is the victim of both men and women of the fashion trade that cash in. The modeling world which Tina inhabits is exposed with stunning cinematography as Arcand strips away the layers of commercialism that relies on selling the notions of youth and physical perfection like Tina Menzel.
No pc topic is overlooked by Arcand who takes a swipe at Canada's First Nation's eco-hype and indigenous spirituality, PETA animal rights fanaticism, heavily accented Canuk celebrity reporters, ice hockey, and feminist-lesbian-politics all with hilarious results.
Thomas Gibson as the steely agent for the multinational public relation agency that represents Tina never permits his client to be anything but the innocent yet desirable money-making product. Gibson's brief b/w screen time reflects a high production cosmetic ad and both Pare and Gibson are beautifully photographed to highlight their physical attractiveness, yet theirs is the only on screen relationship never consumated. Gibson's performance is both subtle, ambiguous, and dead on, esp. teaching a 400-level Yale course in "Sports and Celebrity Entertainment" and warning students of Millie-Vanilli versus Celine Dion talent spotting.
With little exposure beyond HBO screenings, Stardom continues to be true to the reality TV trend, yet, while it was ahead of its time, particularly in comments about full frontal nudity and Meg Ryan that unfortunately have come true, Arcand's film is often so subtle its droll satire flies over the heads of an unreflective public failing to grasp the humor and truth of the informed filmmaker.
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