Starlet

  • Review Date: December 22, 2012
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Story about doing the right thing has heavy sex and drugs.
  • Review Date: December 22, 2012
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A character is given a complex moral conundrum; she tries to figure out how to do the right thing and finds herself rewarded in ways she never could have imagined.

Positive role models

Though the main character is a good soul who tries to do the right thing and befriends and helps an old lady, she also works in the porn industry, lives with a drug dealer, and smokes pot. She's complex and can't easily be called a role model.

Violence

Characters have intense arguments, and, in one scene, a character gets upset and starts knocking objects over, but no one comes to blows.

Sex

The main character and some of the secondary characters work in the porn industry. Viewers see a graphic scene of filming, with sex and nudity, both male and female. There are also several scenes of strong innuendo and many other references to the sex business. Two actual porn stars, Asa Akira and Manuel Ferrara, appear in the movie.

Language

Strong language includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and other explicit words.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One of the secondary characters is a drug dealer. Several characters -- in their 20s -- smoke pot during the course of the movie.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 9, 2012
DVD release date:May 7, 2013
Cast:Besedka Johnson, Dree Hemingway, James Ransone
Director:Sean Baker
Studio:Music Box Films
Genre:Drama
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Starlet was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 10 year old Written byblessed_momma_pam May 13, 2013
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Disgusted Me!

I saw this and I was deeply disturbed...
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byAmericanplaya217 July 24, 2013
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

good message but such an adult film

The movie has a good message but it has a very graphic scene of sexual intercourse, oral sexual incounters. The movie contains graphic language. The movie contains cocaine, the use of alcohol, the use of hard heavy drugs and the way of drug dealing.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bymcfaddenskyler June 24, 2013
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Sexual contact

Heavy!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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