Starlet (2012) Poster

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Starlet, starbright
Steve Pulaski15 May 2013
Twenty-one year old Jane (Dree Hemingway) is a porn actress simply trying to make ends meet in a cruel world, living with her two deadbeat roommates, one of them a fellow actress. After purchasing a vase from an older woman and finding over $10,000 inside, she decides that the least she could do is try and befriend the woman to provide some resemblance of joy and happiness in her life. I suppose friendship is the least you can offer someone after taking the money they didn't know they had.

The woman is eighty-five year old Sadie (Besedka Johnson), who spends her days calmly and in a true state of loneliness, tending her garden and quietly playing bingo at a senior's center. Meeting each other is a generational shock for the both of them in a way that doesn't revolve around the expected political/social norm changes. Instead, the details are shown just by the way they communicate and adapt to their own lifestyles accordingly. Jane would much rather go out of her way to get something more than textbook happiness, while Sadie feels disturbing consistent flow is a personal sin she can not commit.

Sean S. Baker's Starlet is a sweet, tender little story detailing a generation gap that I love to see explored. It's a film, too, that boldly shows a lifestyle in a way that isn't comical or condescending. While the adult film industry only makes up a small part of Starlet's overall focus, it nonetheless makes its view on the industry respectable and mature. The maturity of director Baker, even as he treads dangerously close to smug depiction, remains visible throughout making this a truly sentimental work.

The film is carried by the gifted performances of Hemingway and Johnson, who strike up a valuable, potent chemistry when they're on-screen together. Hemingway's brash qualities and aware attitude contrast boldly with Johnson's reclusive, control-freak persona, making for a relationship that is erected from more than smiles and good-feelings.

Baker adopts the style of filmmaking known simply as "cinéma vérité," a style that heavily emphasizes the brutally honest, naturalistic side of life in filmmaking. I mention it here because the texture and look of the film plays a big role in its likability. Visuals are often mild and possess a sunny disposition, the filmic atmosphere is accentuated beautifully through the use of lens flare and flushed-out colors, and the warmness comes off as not a put-on, but a comforting feature.

There are moments in Starlet that hold deep, uncompromising emotional drama, mainly in the scenes at bingo, where a coldly detached Sadie is left staring at her bingo card as if she really cares what the odds are. There's emotional honesty in the scene because we can see she is not really happy and Jane knows it as well as the audience does at that point. The scene is beautifully captured and scored perfectly so as not to be too mawkish or too downplayed.

Ultimately, Starlet ends the way we kind of expected and its presence is more significant than a footnote but not so much as a genre-piece or a game-changing masterwork. It's short, simple, but above all, an effective illustration of emotion and tone as a coming of age story and a slight meditation on age and its downsides. It provides warmth and heart in its material, but most importantly, an unmissable soul as it shows both generations in full bloom and the naive impulses they give off that often prevent entire personal connection.

Starring: Dree Hemingway and Besedka Johnson. Directed by Sean S. Baker.
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Great character study of two very different women
Boris_Day12 May 2013
Starlet is a character study very much in the spirit of films from the 70s. I think the director was influenced by the likes of Hal Ashby and Paul Mazursky.

A young, slightly aimless woman who has just moved San Fernando Valley, buys a vintage thermos flask at a yard sale from a cranky old lady and discovers $10.000 inside. After making a half-hearted attempt to give it back, she keeps the money, but then feels guilty and tries to befriend the old woman, who remains guarded to the point of hostility at the prospect of having her life disrupted.

The film doesn't ever resort to cosy indie movie clichés about the old passing on their wisdom the the young and life lessons being learned. It also doesn't exploit the young woman's line of business for cheap melodrama, as lesser films would. Both lead performances are wonderful and a cute dog always helps.

The film looks and sounds gorgeous and the director has a knack for what to show us and what to leave out. It's another good case for digital film-making. Talented independent film makers can now make great looking films for peanuts, which is just as well considering Hollywood has almost completely given up on making films for adults.

BTW. the trailer makes this look like another anodyne "heart warming" indie, full of laughter and whimsy, when really it's a much more melancholy, ambivalent and subtle film.
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A truly enjoyable, complex and heartwarming film
jij9811121 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I will start with the unnecessary (but not necessarily negative) interjection of the adult film industry theme into this film which I feel detracts somewhat from the ultimate story. It is not that adult film performers don't have normal emotions but it just seems distracting from the ultimate story, which is simply the emotional bond that forms between a young woman with an aimless lifestyle and good heart who confronts her own guilt about a wrong she commits against an old woman by undertaking her version of atonement for that wrong.

The plot is deceptively simple, a young woman discovers $10,000 hidden in a thermos flask she buys in a yard sale from an old woman. She then confronts the moral dilemma and guilt of keeping the money and ultimately decides, after hearing that the old woman she bought the thermos from does not need the money, to spend the money primarily on making the old woman happy and seeks out the old woman's companionship. This premise, and the skillful mining of that premise, is expertly accomplished by the talented cast and director.

One or two commenters say the theme has been done before. But what theme or plot has not been done before? It is the trip itself that is the reward and the viewer is treated to good acting, crisp and insightful scripting,and a wonderful ride.

Another commenter thought the ending was abrupt and uncertain. It was anything but. The old woman at the end after learning of the money, in a masterful and understated ending showed her forgiveness for the young woman's guilty errors and heartfelt atonement, and showed her closeness and feelings for the young woman by indirectly disclosing her deepest personal secret through the simple act of asking flowers to be placed on a grave.

I have to think hard to come up with a more masterful ending to a movie then the subtle ending of this low-key immensely entertaining indie film. Highly recommended.
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Unique and lovely
billyweeds-125 November 2012
"Starlet" is an absolutely lovely, unique film which I recommend without reservation. Masterfully directed by Sean ("Greg the Bunny") Baker, it stars Dee Hemingway, the daughter of Mariel, who plays Jane, a rather aimless but very sweet, very young, very pretty Angeleno who drifts through her life with two somewhat repellent roommates and a cute male Chihuahua named Starlet.

Things change when Jane buys an old thermos bottle at a yard sale and discovers ten grand hidden inside. The rest of the movie has to do with her relationship with Sadie, the old woman who held the yard sale (played by octogenarian Besedka Johnson, making her film debut!), and Jane pursuing her part-time job.

I won't say more, because the journey is worth taking. Hemingway and Johnson are a fantastic team. Jane and Sadie are an odd couple as odd, unexpected, and ultimately moving as any I've ever seen. The film is unpredictable and eye-opening and funny and poignant. I loved it.
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A rare experience
Al Rodbell5 November 2013
My Wife and I watched the at home last night, and wanted to extend the experience with IMDb audience, so I dug into the back story, -- those who made the film in all capacities and other comments such as this. I loved these people in the film, and wanted to extend their "relationship" for as long as possible. The film, rather than being a scaffolding for dramatic tension, was a minimalist plausible story to allow the two main characters, one nearing the end of her life and the other at the beginning, to connect. The occasion for the meeting while unusual, advanced the plot without overpowering the story.

I have just viewed this short video interview of the two leads, Basedka Johnson, who played the elderly Sadie, and Dee Hemingway who portrayed Jane. If you loved the film, watch it.

If the profession of casting is discovering individuals who encompass the genuine emotions of the fictional characters of a drama, then this was an inspired example of the art. No looking through face shots or previous performances for casting Sadie, as an executive director recognized her character in the women next to her at a local fitness center, and uttered the mythic Hollywood words, "You could be great for the lead part in a film we are making." This is further discussed in the video I reference. Not exactly the best time of life to get such an opportunity, but Basedka jumped at it, with the due caution of her age.

I'm not sure that this magnificent film actually represents the finest example of the actors craft, which at its best can only be a close simulation of reality. What I felt watching the film, and now have confirmed by the single video of the two, and there will be no more since Basheda died soon after at 87, are two people of independent minds who have genuine affection for each other. Those who wrote, directed, edited and contributed to creating this film had the sense and restraint to provide a serviceable vehicle for this to be played out without any undue interference.

They have allowed millions of people to be with two genuine people and their characters for a brief time, who in both realms come from very different backgrounds, yet who share a common humanity. Even the usually seedy world of pornography became just what they did for a living, rather than defining them any more than any other occupation.

For someone much closer to Basheda's age than to Dee's, it is inspiring that she toughed out those last years, and was able to take the surprise of instant fame before it was all over. There are levels of this film that I still haven't been able to fully internalize, much less describe, which is a sign of a work of art that affects the viewer in ways that defy explanation.
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Heartfelt, heartrending and poignant as all-get out with enough sentiment, humor and plain honesty rarely seen in film today. A true gem sleeper.
george.schmidt18 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
STARLET (2012) **** Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, James Ransone, Stella Maeve. Remarkable big-screen debut for filmmaker Sean Baker and his incredible star, Hemingway (Mariel's daughter) as a blissfully unaware young up-and-coming porn star in sun-baked Cali who strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly woman (equally amazing 'newcomer' Johnson) after purchasing at a yard sale turns out a cache of hidden money instilling a sense of guilt - and for her first time - responsibility enacting her to get close to the off-putting octogenarian. With almost an improvisatory pseudo-docu/verite style thanks to Baker's collaboration on an original screenplay with Chris Bergoch, the film slowly deepens its main characters with enough empathy and also cringe-worthy moments of anomie (namely the impressively nasty Maeve as Hemingway's skeezy roomie). Heartfelt, heartrending and poignant as all-get out with enough sentiment, humor and plain honesty rarely seen in film today. A true gem sleeper. Kudos to the adorable Chihuahua pup pet of Hemingway's :D
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Not to be missed
Culver Bronsan22 August 2012
STARLET is a bold and original independent film. It's not afraid to go places most indies would shy away from, mostly due to not landing a distribution deal etc. That is just one of the many reasons why STARLET has true independent spirit.

I saw STARLET at SXSW earlier this year and it was the most exciting narrative to come out of the fest. Sean Baker is a fearless filmmaker that has already established himself with a diverse body of work. He's one I'll be watching for a longtime to come.

And of course this short review/praise would be incomplete without mentioning the breakthrough performance by Dree Hemingway. You could tell she had complete faith in Baker and it showed in her performance. It's a risky role that she seemed to handle gracefully.

STARLET is a film that challenges it's viewers. It challenges our prejudices and preconceived notions, but it does so with a heart.

Honorable mention: The brilliant, and almost effortless, performance by the dog, "Starlet".
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Bad Girls
valis194925 July 2013
STARLET (dir. Sean Baker) When 21 year old Jane discovers $10,000 in cash stuffed in a thermos that she bought at an old woman's yard sale, she tries to do the right thing and return the money. However, the old woman didn't know about the money (her long dead husband might have hidden the cash), so Jane befriends elderly Sadie in order to pay off the karmic debt. Because Jane's unusual occupation is not revealed until the film is almost half over, her illicit employment does not affect the natural relationship that grows between the two woman. A fine Independent film, and Dree Hemingway (Jane) and Besedka Johnson (Sadie) deliver exception performances. It must be mentioned that Jane's pet Chihuahua in the film is powerfully cute! Worth A Look.
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Darkly Funny & Warm-Hearted But Also Sexually Explicit & Raw At Times
Larry Silverstein11 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This darkly funny and warm-hearted indie struck me the right way, although if you're easily offended it may not be for you. It can be quite sexually explicit at times with very raw language throughout.

Set in Los Angeles, Dree Hemingway, whose screen presence and mannerisms remind me so much of her mother Mariel, stars as Jane, a young woman who decides to give her room a make-over. She starts to buy items at various yard sales, one of which is a large thermos that she purchases from an elderly woman named Sadie. Sadie is magnificently portrayed by Besedka Johnson, who has a remarkable personal story as well that I read on Wikipedia. This was her first movie, as she was discovered working out at a gym at the age of 85. Sadly, she passed away earlier this year.

In the thermos Jane purchased she discovers after bringing it home that it contains thousands of dollars in rolled up hundreds. She's undecided as to how to handle this, and at one point brings it back to Sadie but is rebuffed before she can say much by the irritable woman.

Jane finally decides to keep the money, but also decides in very clever ways to insert herself into Sadie's life, to help her with errands or in any way she can. This remarkable possible bonding between the two is the real heart of the movie, and I thought extremely well scripted and presented by the director Sean Baker, who also co-wrote the script with Chris Bergoch.

We don't find out till about half way through the film that Jane is a porno actress, as is her emotionally volatile housemate Melissa, ably played by Stella Maeve. They're both sharing the house with Melissa's boyfriend Mikey (James Ransone), who seems like a nice guy but has no guilt about selling drugs, pimping, or shooting porno movies to raise cash.

When Jane goes to work on the set is where the scenes can be quite sexually explicit, and they don't leave much to the imagination. There's also, as mentioned plenty of nudity and raw language as well.

The surprise ending I thought was very poignant and touching, in my opinion. Of course, let me not forget Starlet, the incredibly cute Chihuahua of Jane's. He's a rescue dog and won my heart early on and he becomes an important part of the film as well.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this indie that I picked up at my local library.
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A Story of Revelations
atlasmb30 October 2013
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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zombiebird27 April 2013
A good movie about a young, energetic, friendly woman who, as a result of various circumstances, befriends a lovely, somewhat grumpy old lady. Not very original, as you've probably already surmised, there have been tons of movies, and TV shows covering the same relationship dynamic, and quite possibly the same basic outline. Some of those good, others bad, still others horribly bad and cliché, this however is 1 of the good 1s. The acting, directing and story-line were all good, resulting in a mellow, slow paced film with tiny peeks of highs and lows.

It's shot in suburban L.A. and has a distinct L.A. feel to it, at least it did to me, in the neighborhoods, the mountainous backdrops and perhaps too in the characters. I suppose that might not be really important, but I like to get engrossed in he cities and countries I see in movies.

The 1 bad thing I'd have to say about this movie though would be the ending, it seemed really abrupt, I assume the director/writer wanted us to mull over the last scene as we finished he movie but really it just left you wanting to see that scene/conversation played out and wanting the words that were implied to actually be spoken.

Overall a good movie, not great but good.
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A gem
euroGary16 August 2013
When I attended a screening of this indie at the 2013 Glasgow Film Festival there were only four other people in the auditorium! But we happy few saw a real gem: Dree Hemingway plays a young porn star who buys a flask from an old woman (Besedka Johnson), only to discover the flask contains several thousand dollars. When Johnson, thinking she's after a refund, refuses to discuss the flask, Hemingway resolves to do the older woman good turns instead, and gradually a relationship develops between the two.

In a way it's a shame there's so much swearing and sexual content (including a scene of unsimulated sex) in the film, as the central soapy portrayal of the friendship between the two women means it would fit nicely in the inoffensive Sunday afternoon slot on BBC2, if it were more family-friendly. It's not perfect: Hemingway's Valley girl drawl is wearing at times, and some of the dialogue has the smell of "workshopped-dialogue-don't-know-how-to-bring-this-scene-to-a-close" about it, but minor gripes aside this is a nice character piece and I'd happily watch it again, even if it means breaking my 'no performing animals' rule (thankfully the dog - the 'Starlet' of the title - isn't asked to do anything dogs don't normally do).
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Pleasantly surprised...
bioshake8 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Watched this having never heard a word about this film and despite there not being a lot going on it was strangely captivating. Possibly because the acting feels very genuine and the plot / character development was steady paced and fully believable.

Ending was well done as well and it leaves the final statements about the film and Sadie and Tess's relationship and assumption as to where things go completely up to the viewer.

Spoiler: I was shocked during the sex scene as I've never seen full penetration complete with ejaculation in a real movie before and I'm still conflicted as to whether or not this added to the movie or not. I'm curious to know about how others reacted to this level of detail as well.
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Had some potential...
grantss28 September 2014
This movie had some potential, but that potential was ultimately unfulfilled.

The initial idea: young woman befriends much older woman, looked like it might have some legs to it, especially with the money angle to it too. However, from the start the movie seemed a bit unoriginal - Harold and Maude sprang immediately to mind - and implausible. Some of the stuff that happens is just plain weird and contrived.

Weaved in and out of this theme is Jane's (the young woman) other life, with her permanently-high flatmate, other friends and job. This varies from quite funny at times (the flatmate and friends) to downright gratuitous (the R-rated scenes). The porn industry stuff was essentially just padding and titillation. It cheapened the movie, to a very large extent.

Ending is interesting and does tie the movie together, but isn't that much of a shock or twist.
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This star really does shine bright
TheLittleSongbird12 November 2017
Decided to see Sean Baker's previous work to get myself prepared for his recent film out in cinemas now 'The Florida Project'. Seeing 2012's 'Starlet' first up has gotten me even more psyched, because while not quite perfect 'Starlet' was a very impressive little film deserving to be better known. It may not be for everybody's tastes, but even with Baker's style and direction no being familiar to me it was hard not to fall under its spell.

A few of the plot twists in 'Starlet' are perhaps executed a little too neatly and while the ending is very poignant it's slightly on the abrupt side as well. That's it though for the minor faults that are eclipsed by everything else that is done right. While it may take some getting used to for some, the sunny and slightly bleached colours and slightly off-kilter but very naturalistic filming (that's very evocative and not amateurish like it can be easily mistaken as).

'Starlet' really stands out in the writing, with a great balance of funny comedy, charming warmth, understated sweetness and touching drama. The story likewise, it really made me feel warm inside, it made me laugh, it surprised me, it charmed me and it moved me. It is easy for anybody to feel that the more explicit content is gratuitous, not to me, instead it felt sensual and real with an ability to shock that just added another layer to the drama.

Baker's direction is adroit and he paces everything beautifully. The portrayal of an unlikely relationship is executed in a way that makes one laugh, cry and think.

Can't say anything bad about the performances either, with a deservedly star-making lead performance from Dree Hemingway, who really is one to watch for anybody else unfamiliar to her before watching. The spikiness and vulnerability of that of Besedka Johnson makes one wonder how she wasn't discovered sooner (it is just as sad too that she died not long after the film's release). The dog Boonee as the titular character is absolutely adorable.

In conclusion, a lovely film that shines brightly. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Dree Hemingway work in progress
SnoopyStyle17 August 2013
21 year old porn actress Jane (Dree Hemingway) lives an empty life while getting high with her roommates, Melissa (Stella Maeve) and Mikey (James Ransone). Jane happens upon elderly loner Sadie (Besedka Johnson)'s yard sale which leads to a stash of cash and an unlikely friendship.

Dree is a likable actress with model good looks. She is not seasoned but good enough to play the ingenue. The movie moves at an easy pace. It has a natural feel but does drag in places. Stand out supporting acting comes from Stella Maeve. What it truly needs is more sense of danger that ramps up and increases as the movie advances. It has great possibilities but gets resolved a little too quickly.
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'Boogie Nights' meets 'On Golden Pond'
Turfseer5 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
'Starlet' refers to an adorable Chihuahua of the same name, owned by Jane (Dree Hemingway), an actor of the adult entertainment variety. Perhaps Jane aspires to be a starlet herself but is content when we first meet her, to room with two other denizens of the adult entertainment industry, coke-addicted Melissa and her pimp, Mikey, in a small but comfy San Fernando Valley apartment.

Director Sean Bake has propelled Jane on a journey of redemption when she meets Sadie, an elderly woman, who is selling some of her personal items at a garage sale. After Jane buys an old vase from Sadie, a veritable curmudgeon, she brings it home and suddenly discovers $10,000, in rolled up $100 bills, hidden inside. Jane finds the money does come in handy and decides to keep it. But by the same token, she feels guilty and then attempts to befriend the old woman, perhaps as an act of penitence.

At first Sadie is extremely suspicious of Jane's motives, culminating in Sadie's pepper spray attack on Jane, as the friendly porn actress drives her home. But now Sadie feels guilty how she treated Jane and decides to allow Jane into her life. There are forays to Sadie's weekly bingo game and later out to the cemetery, where Sadie wistfully places flowers on the grave of her long-deceased gambler husband (perhaps the husband stashed the money in the vase without Sadie's knowledge; or perhaps Sadie just plain forgot the money was inside the vase).

Meanwhile, there's a sub-plot involving Melissa, who has a meltdown over her alleged mistreatment at the hands of her porn industry boss, with level-headed Jane coming to her rescue. When Starlet drags out the purse containing the pilfered cash, Melissa discovers the stash and decides to help herself to a few hundred for a few car down payments. Jane of course doesn't even notice. Eventually, the second act crisis involves Melissa, in a fit of jealousy, revealing to Sadie that Jane took her money.

Jane and Melissa perhaps represent the dichotomy in the adult entertainment world. Porn actresses such as Jane, despite their involvement in a world that many consider sleazy, can still operate with their head above water. Case in point: her humanitarian concern for Sadie. Melissa, on the other hand, represents the dark side of porn--she is narcissistic, angry, jealous and vindictive. Mikey perhaps is more the comic relief--even both Jane and Melissa find that the pole he installs in the living room (for pole dancing), is ridiculous.

Starlet's central problem is the poorly developed Sadie. She's played by Besedka Johnson, a neophyte, discovered at a local YWCA gym. Johnson can do little with a character that is so one-note and who we find out so little about. Some may find the relationship between Jane and Sadie to be touching but ultimately it really doesn't go anywhere. I would go so far as to say that the appeal of the relationship is strictly sentimental at its core. Nonetheless, Sadie's decision not to listen to Melissa's tirade against Jane, and ending up going with her to Paris, is proof of the film's inherent optimism.

In the end, my feelings about 'Starlet' are ambivalent. I found the scenes involving the machinations within the adult entertainment world to be somewhat interesting. Less so with the perfunctory relationship between Jane and Sadie. 'Starlet' wins points because it suggests that even a porn actress can have a good heart. It also does well in examining the flip side: the aforementioned dark side of porn, embodied by the character of Melissa. Ultimately, the relationship between the principals proves to be too ordinary and lugubrious, to be considered dramatically effective.
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Another touching, funny and idiosyncratic little indie from Sean Baker ("Tangerine")
runamokprods7 March 2015
One would think there's not much more to say about the empty life of druggy, fringy youth in L.A.'s San Fernando valley. But this film messes with our expectations in lovely ways, and ends up as a comedy-drama that's human and surprising.

Calling a film like this 'little' is no pejorative. If it was 'bigger' (budget, stars) it probably would have had it's jagged edges shorn off, and with them would have gone much of it's special-ness.

The acting is terrific. Dree Hemingway makes the air-headed, hottie lead wonderfully vapid and annoying – at first – and lets us only slowly come to appreciate her humanity underneath. Besedka Johnson, in her film debut as the 85 year old that Hemingway stumbles into an uneasy friendship with makes her character equal parts spiky defensive exterior and vulnerable, needy center, giving reality and depth to this sad, touchy recluse.

The photography is also very evocative; its ugly, bleached color and slightly off-kilter but deliberate framings are far more interesting than is common in a micro-budget indie. And the film makes some brave choices, like a few seconds of extreme and un-simulated sexuality that makes points about character and our perceptions by being both shocking and banal at the same time.

My only real frustrations were that a few of the plot twists felt forced – too neat and coincidental for a film this grounded in feeling 'real'. But that was nowhere near enough of a problem to keep me from feeling very warm indeed about this odd-ball character study.
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Good But Misses Great
pc9528 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
(Spoilers)"Starlet" is a bit difficult to rate. It has a lot going for it and on the whole was a fairly good parable even if the ending is obvious and out-in-the-open despite its intended juxtapose. It had a chance to be an excellent movie but takes some dings due to a couple mis-steps by the storytellers that seem amateurish and rather disappointing. The 2 major annoyances for me were the awful in-your- face Porn scene with graphic smut that went "beyond the pale", and to a lesser degree the lower quality picture, camera-work, and shakiness. Sadly those are highly fixable problems. I enjoyed the acting, storyline, and the accompanying music a lot. Loved the relationship with the 2 leads and the Hemingway with the dog did it better than Witherspoon in comedy "Legally Blonde". Anyway, so the movie is like reading a good story that has been terribly proofread, and with glaring, obvious errors. Good though and Recommended. 7/10
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6.5 is unreal
eddyhuxster25 April 2013
I'm going to keep this simple as possible i just watched and interview with the director.Who explains the film and where he was coming from when he created it .He explained the relationship between the two characters as like a harold and maude. In that respect he nailed it ,he also said this was and adult film.Harold and maude was more of a solid story with more substance.So if your a fan of harold and maude and or watched it and became a fan of it .Don't waste your time watching this because it shits on the original format big time.

This movie starts off like its going to be a story about a younger woman and a older woman.As the main plot line but, the more i watched i saw that the movie was about this girl being in the porn industry.Then her relationship with the older woman.Hate to sound cynical but this is just and adult film with a some what solid plot.For those who haven't seen it,there is a explicit sex scene in it .I know sean baker is known for his realism.In today's age realism has become the ultimate cliché making him irrelevant.He should of just focused on making a solid effective story .Instead he went for those kick in the gut reactions its 2012 buddy get with the times.

The acting was phenonmenal..coming from the old lady .It was so good i thought they just hired a regualr person to do that part . All the other actors were so/so. Dree hemingway is a decent actress can't say much else for the girl.Compared to her co star she also looked like a random girl off the street.One that had very little business with acting period .The writing at times seemed like filler except when it was between the two main actors.Overall the 6.5 rating was too high for me but i did give it some credit.If your looking to be blown away and touched by a performance.Please go see this movie mainly for besedka johnson you will not be disappointed.If your interested in seeing and adult film with a plot also go see this film you wont be disappointed. If your looking for a great story with substance and a redeeming quality don't bother.
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Overexposed in The Valley
Russell Abraham5 January 2014
This movie is about relationships. Everything else is a framework to color in the lives of two lonely people who are a mere 60 years apart in age. The "deus ex machina" of finding a small fortune stuffed in an old thermos at a garage sale is just a device to bring these two people together. The San Fernando Valley is a very curious place where nothing seems nailed down and appearances can be more than deceiving. Porn stars live next door to orthodox Jews and octogenarians, all isolated in their own worlds and oblivious to their neighbors just feet away. Hemingway is isolated by her profession (porn star) unable to have a meaningful relationship and Johnson is isolated by her age and past losses that have caused her to withdraw to her quaint bungalow. Slowly and fitfully, a relationship between the two grows.

The movie is well paced and well directed. The porn theme is handled creatively and tastefully. It is a full half way through the film that Hemingway's profession is revealed. I do have a problem with the every scene being overexposed by about 2/3 stops and seriously desaturated. It is a cinematographic technique that has its limits. There are a few continuity issues that should have been resolved in the editing process, but overall, this film is a poignant and sensitive view of life in L.A. in the 21st Century.
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Young pornstar sorting out her life in Hollywood.
TxMike8 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I want to make it clear, Dree Hemingway is a legitimate actress, not a real pornstar. But here she plays Jane renting a room in someone else's home, going about her daily business, at first with no indication of what she does for a living. It is gradually revealed, she is a pornstar. But in most respects seems like a normal 20-something.

The room she rents is pretty bare, so she drives around one day, going from yard sale to yard sale, to pick up a few things to decorate her space. One of the places is the home of an older lady, approaching 90, Besedka Johnson as Sadie. There she buys a tall thermos bottle, intending to use it as a vase. Sadie warns her "the sale is final" and this plays into the further scenes.

This is a curious slice of life story, I find myself unable to attach a legitimate "score" because it depends on what one looks for in a small, independent movie. It ultimately is about the unlikely relationship that forms between Jane and Sadie, and things that are gradually revealed by each.

(An interesting aside, Jane and Sadie have a short conversation about their astrological signs. The actress who plays Sadie is new to the acting business, she had been an astrologer!)

SPOILERS: When Jane got the thermos home she found inside a number of rolls of $100 bills, $10,000 in all. Wrestling with her conscience she decided to bring it back, but the old lady said "No returns" and shut the door. But Jane persisted, she found ways to be where Sadie was, offered her rides, befriended her. In the process Jane found out Sadie didn't lack for money, her husband had been a very successful gambler, and the $10,000 in the thermos was no doubt his. So eventually Jane hatched a plan to spend all the money on Sadie, to bring her to Paris for a week, a place Sadie "loved" but had never been. Even though Jane's jealous house-mate went over and told Sadie "Jane has a lot of your money", Sadie was happy in the fact that she had found a friend.
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uber Naturalism
sanford-4754920 September 2016
Starlet,Uber Naturalism:

Recently, I watched the film, STARLET, staring Drew Hemingway, the grand-daughter of Earnest. In the film she is a porno star! a beautiful porno star. Midway through the film, she performs with another "sex worker". It is much too explicit.

Guided by principles of Naturalism, there is no modesty, no privacy-- just raw sex, which is not sexy at all. Sex is simply considered Work, routine work! At the end, they shake hands and say: "It was good working with you. Have a nice day...." Her macho grandfather would be shocked out of his mind!
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