Starlet is a 2012 independent drama film directed by Sean Baker and starring Dree Hemingway and newcomer Besedka Johnson. Starlet explores the unlikely friendship between 21-year-old Jane and 85-year-old Sadie, two women whose lives intersect in California's San Fernando Valley.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sean Baker|
|Edited by||Sean Baker|
|Distributed by||Music Box Films|
|Box office||$88,212 (US)|
Jane, who also introduces herself as Tess, is a young woman who lives in an apartment with two dysfunctional roommates, Melissa, and Melissa's boyfriend Mikey, and her Chihuahua dog Starlet. Jane decides she wants to personalize her room, but Melissa says the room cannot be painted because Mikey needs it for "shoots". Jane decides to buy new furniture at neighborhood yard sales. At one such sale she comes across an old woman named Sadie, from whom she buys a thermos.
While Melissa and Mikey argue downstairs, she discovers a stash of money in the thermos. She spends some of the money on extravagant luxuries, but then decides to return the money to Sadie. Sadie, however, dismisses Jane before she can explain. Sadie takes a cab to the grocery store; Jane follows, pays and sends away the cab, and offers Sadie a ride home. The two women spend time together in Sadie's house; Jane gives her number to a skeptical Sadie and tells her to call her if she needs anything.
Jane later surprises Sadie by joining her at a bingo game. Once more paying off Sadie's taxi, she drives her home and asks her about whether she wins at bingo. Sadie responds by spraying Jane with mace. After a talk with the police, Jane leaves visibly angry. Sadie calls Jane the next day to reconcile; the two spend some time together and Jane learns that Sadie, a widow, loves Paris but has never visited the city.
Melissa is fired from her job where the pair are adult film stars. Jane convinces their boss to suspend Melissa for a month instead, and Jane consequently gets a promotion. While Jane is at work, she leaves Starlet with Sadie, who loses the dog while tending to her garden. Sadie recovers the dog after a desperate and exhausting search. When Jane arrives to retrieve Starlet, Sadie seems troubled and wants to put an end to their friendship, which upsets Jane.
Melissa, advises Jane to spend the money on someone she cares about, so Jane buys two first-class tickets to Paris for Sadie and herself. Sadie, however, refuses to go. Jane buys 25 Bingo cards and makes a deal with Sadie that if she wins at bingo, Sadie will go on the trip. Jane loses because Sadie herself wins the game; Sadie ultimately agrees to go on the trip anyway.
Back at the apartment, Melissa finds out that Jane has spent all the money on Sadie instead of her. The two engage in a screaming match, and Melissa kicks Jane out and later tells Sadie about the stash of money. Sadie briefly unpacks her suitcase, but then rethinks her action. Later, Jane, ignorant of Sadie's knowledge about the money, picks her up to go to the airport. Sadie asks Jane to stop at the cemetery to leave flowers on the grave of her husband, and Jane notices the nearby grave of Sadie's deceased daughter. She then returns to the car, and they drive away.
- Dree Hemingway as Jane/Tess
- Besedka Johnson as Sadie
- Stella Maeve as Melissa
- James Ransone as Mikey
- Karren Karagulian as Arash
- Mickey O'Hagan (credited as Michael Adrienne O'Hagan) as Janice
Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch collaborated on the screenplay for Starlet from November 2010 through summer 2011. Starlet began production in August 2011 and wrapped the following month. The film was shot entirely in Los Angeles. Music Box Films acquired domestic distribution rights to Starlet and released the film on November 9, 2012.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 89% of 44 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 7.3/10. Metacritic rated it 74/100 based on 18 reviews. Indiewire called Starlet a "provocative showcase for newcomer Dree Hemingway", and Variety called it "beautifully understated". The Hollywood Reporter added that it "pairs story and setting together perfectly". Movieline wrote that the film was "surprisingly sweet". Indiewire's blog The Playlist wrote that the film "signals the arrival of Dree Hemingway as one to watch". Manohla Dargis of The New York Times made it a "critic's pick" and described it as "a thrillingly, unexpectedly good American movie about love and a moral awakening".
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- "Schedule". SXSW 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
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- "Starlet". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- "SXSW REVIEW: Sean Baker's 'Starlet' a Provocative Showcase for Newcomer Dree Hemingway". IndieWire. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
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- "SXSW '12 Review: Secrets, Revelations & An Unlikely Friendship Emerge In The Compelling 'Starlet'". IndieWire. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- Dargis, Manohla (8 November 2012). "Less Than Visible, but Not to Each Other". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2014.