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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Starlet is an indie drama about a young woman who, after accidental good fortune, befriends an elderly lady. Despite the character's good intentions and a generally positive message of being rewarded for doing the right thing, the movie is set in and around the porn industry, and there are graphic sex scenes, nudity, and strong innuendo, as well as actual porn stars in the cast. Plus, one secondary character is a drug dealer, and many of the main characters smoke pot at some point. Language is also strong, including "f--k," and there's strong arguing.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jane (Dree Hemingway, daughter of Mariel and great-granddaughter of Ernest) works as a porn actress. She and her little dog, Starlet, live with her friend Melissa (Stella Maeve) and Melissa's drug-dealing boyfriend, Mikey (James Ransone). Buying things for her room, Jane picks up an old Thermos at a garage sale, intending to use it as a vase. To her surprise, it's filled with money. She tries to speak to the woman who sold it, Sadie (Besedka Johnson), but Sadie is cranky and distant and wants nothing to do with the young woman. But Jane is persistent and, over time, manages to bond with the older woman. Will she eventually give the money back, or will their friendship take a different turn?
Is it any good?
At first glance, it appears as though STARLET is going to use the frustrating old "lie" plot, wherein an untruth brings characters together and creates conflict. But director and co-writer Sean Baker sidesteps this with subtle shadings. The money is an accident, not a theft, and the focus eventually shifts away from it. Instead, Baker spends energy making Jane and Sadie's unlikely friendship plausible. The strong performances by Hemingway and 86-year-old newcomer Johnson help.
Starlet moves at its own pace, using dreamy, sunny lighting and almost random cutting, as if to prolong the days. (Starlet the dog even appears to be asleep in most of the scenes.) None of these characters works long hours or have anyplace special to be. Even the movie's porn aspect is downplayed. As graphic as it is, it hardly affects the movie's tone. All of this makes for fertile ground in which to ponder Starlet's moral repercussions and its honesty.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Starlet's scenes that take place in the adult film industry. What impact do they have on the characters and the rest of the movie? How does the movie depict sex in general?
Is Jane a role model? Does she do the right thing? How does that stack up against the fact that she works in the porn industry and smokes pot?
Is Jane and Sadie's relationship believable? Have you ever been friends with a person not in your age group?