STARLET explores the unlikely cross-generational friendship between 21 year-old Jane (Dree Hemingway), and the elderly Sadie (Besedka Johnson), two women whose worlds collide in California's San Fernando Valley. Jane, an aspiring actress, spends her time getting high with her dysfunctional roommates, Melissa and Mikey (Stella Maeve and James Ransone), while caring for her Chihuahua, Starlet. Sadie, a widow, passes her days alone, tending to her flower garden. After a confrontation between the women at Sadie's yard sale, Jane uncovers a hidden stash of money inside a relic from Sadie's past. Jane attempts to befriend the caustic older woman in an effort to solve her dilemma and secrets emerge as their relationship grows. Director Sean Baker continues in the naturalistic style of his previous films, the award-winning and Spirit Award nominees PRINCE OF BROADWAY and TAKE OUT, capturing the rhythms of everyday life with an authenticity rarely seen in cinema. Featuring a pair of ... Written by
Besedka Johnson was discovered by executive producer Shih-Ching Tsou in the ladies' locker room of a gym she frequented. It was Besedka's dream to be an actress since she was 15. After 70 years, her dream came true. Starlet is her first and final film role. See more »
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Our story starts with a young woman, Jane (Dree Hemingway), going to yard sales in search of items to brighten her drab bedroom. She meets an older woman named Sadie (Besedka Johnson)who sells her a thermos. Jane discovers that it contains about $10,000. This is the jumping off point for the story of Starlet.
The entire film is a story of revelation. We follow the natural progress of the women's lives and the development of their relationship. As they learn about each other, the viewer learns about the entirety of their lives. Jane is a cheerful woman who embraces life with a smile. Sadie is rather gruff and distrusting. The contrast in their personalities is rather a reverse of the Harold & Maude story (which the director cites as an influence).
Some of the revelations are mundane, some are surprising. Through it all, the unlikely pair forges what might be a friendship. The film is about the nature of friendship. What does it mean? Does it entail responsibilities as well as benefits? What are the commonalities necessary for friendship?
The director, Sean Baker, seeks cinema verite. The result feels like a slice from the lives of two distinctly different women. One is at the beginning of her adult life, the other is at the end. But neither has a real family, so there may be common ground after all.
Meslissa Maeve is a standout as Jane's roommate, Melissa. And a special mention should go to Boonee who plays Jane's dog, Starlet (actually the pet of the director) and steals some scenes.
The last revelation comes in the final scene. It is a scene much discussed on the message boards. Personally, I loved the scene. It is beautiful and revelatory at the same time.
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