SXSW FILM 2012
By Don Simpson | March 12, 2012
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker
Starring: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, James Ransone, Stella Maeve
Jane (Dree Hemingway) is a beautiful Barbie Doll of a young woman, yet she seems to have no friends…well, except for her new housemates Melissa (Stella Maeve) and Mikey (James Ransone) — but they do not count since they are perpetually zonked out on pot, oxy and god only knows what else. On one fateful day Jane goes to a yard sale where she buys a bunch of crap to decorate her new bedroom. One of the items she buys is a thermos. (I know. Big whoop, right?) And it is this very same thermos that prompts Jane to attempt to befriend Sadie (Besedka Johnson), the curmudgeonly old hag who previously owned the thermos.
Sadie certainly has no interest in becoming Jane’s friend and — at least at first — Jane’s attempts at befriending Sadie seem selfish at best; but as time progresses it becomes increasingly obvious that Jane really just wants to have a friend — any friend — outside of her job. It is Jane’s job that has stripped her of any sense of identity; it is also her job that “explains” Jane’s dumb blonde shtick and sex kitten wardrobe. In many ways, Jane’s job is intended to be a revelatory surprise (so, yes, I will refrain from spoiling said plot point). What I will say about Jane’s job is that her employer is damn lucky to have her, because Jane’s physical appearance is much better suited for high fashion. But we can chalk this up to Jane’s lack of self-esteem…which we can chalk up to her demoralizing job…which I will not divulge…
Sean Baker’s fourth feature, Starlet, is a morality lesson about the keeping of secrets; but, unfortunately, it plays like an excuse to feature Dree Hemingway in oh-so-revealing wardrobes. (That said — as a heterosexual male, it is very difficult to complain too much about this.) In the end, it seems like Baker just wanted to make a porn film, albeit one with a plot and limited penetration. Although I am typically critical of prudishly puritanical Americans and their inherent aversion to nudity, Starlet seems a bit too gratuitous for my tastes. The sex scenes are a little too slick — especially in the context of the rest of the narrative — all that is missing is the Wakka Chikka Wakka Chikka music.