‘Starlet,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


“Starlet,” opening Friday (11/9/12) in limited release, may be one of the year’s most surprising little movies, a tough-minded, low-budget tale that never quite leads you where it seems to be going.

Not that where it’s going is somewhere you’d choose for yourself. But writer-director Sean Baker hooks you early and keeps twisting the screws in unexpected ways. Whether you mean to or not, you get caught up in its seemingly simple story, even as it reveals layers that are unexpected.

Dree Hemingway plays Jane, one of those ubiquitous California girls that seem to grow out of the cracks in the sidewalks in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. She lives with a roommate named Melissa (Stella Maeve) and Melissa’s boyfriend Mikey (James Ransone) in a relatively unfurnished townhouse with a little dog named Starlet as her constant companion.

Jane’s got a car but no apparent job. So it seems to be her lucky day when she makes the rounds of Sunday yard sales and comes away with a thermos. She gets into an argument with the elderly woman who’s selling it, when Jane tells her that she plans to use it as a vase.

When she gets it home and tries to put flowers in it, however, there’s something inside: several rubber-banded rolls of $100 bills. It’s about $10,000 – which should keep Jane in jobless, weed-smoking splendor with her roommates for a while (though she doesn’t tell them about the money).

This review continues on my website.

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