Sean Baker

Starlet Review

Editor’s note: Starlet arrives in theaters this Friday, but we already saw it way back in March at SXSW. Why don’t you re-read our review from then, originally published on March 12, 2012? There’s nothing quite like found money to bring out people’s true colors – and, in the case of Sean Baker‘s Starlet, the character that emerges from lead character Jane is surprising to everyone around her, especially herself. Baker’s film centers on Jane (Dree Hemingway), a Florida transplant who now wiles away her days in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley doing, well, what is it that Jane does? The gorgeous Hemingway spends most of her time driving around with her dog (Starlet, even though he happens to be a boy), getting high with her terrible roommates (an appropriately screeching and unhinged Stella Maeve and her dirtbag boyfriend James Ransone), and wearing clothing so short that it nearly becomes its own plot point. While it’s eventually revealed just what Jane does with her time and for her money, Starlet focuses on an undefined Jane in the film’s first half, a time period in which nothing much happen beyond the introduction of the film’s only major plot point, though that introduction takes less than five minutes. And though we do eventually get to know Jane more as the film plods on, it does not prove to be an ultimately rewarding experience. 

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Walk up Broadway from 20th to 30th streets in Manhattan and you’ll find a bustling bazaar of low-rent storefront shops hawking an array of consumer goods, some legal, most not. With salesmen haranguing you to come with them and check out their latest deals, it’s not the best spot for a leisurely stroll. In the portrait the neighborhood offers of the American dream being aggressively pursued, it is, however, a fascinating milieu. Sean Baker, director of the new shoestring budget feature Prince of Broadway, now in limited release, seizes upon the small dramatic moments and intricate details that characterize the daily flow of life centered on this part of town.

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published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
A
published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.17.2014
B-

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