A 20-year old adult-movie actress who becomes friends with an old widow after buying a thermo from her secretly filled with money. Does that sound odd to you? It did to me! Nevertheless, it is the story line of the new American filmmaker Sean Baker’s film STARLET. The movie takes place in the adult-movie industry of San Fernando Valley which is the home for broken dreams, drugs, lost souls and aspiring actresses. One of these lost souls, adult-movie actress Jane, spends most of her time getting high with her roommates and taking care of her Chihuahua, Starlet. As a complete opposite is old widow Sadie who spends her days taking care of her garden and going to Bingo. Jane and Sadie meet after a yard-sale where Jane buys a thermo from Sadie filled with money. After a failed attempt to return this money, Jane starts following Sadie around which becomes the beginning of the odd friendship between the two of them.
I really liked how the roughness of the porn industry and the tragic lonely life of Sadie made the awkward friendship moments between Sadie and Jane even sweeter as you really want the two of them to find some love and support in their lonely daily lives. But even though, the sweet gentle moments placed a smile on my face during the film, I couldn’t stop feeling like something was wrong. It seemed odd to my that a young lost girl from the porn industry would want to engage in a relationship with an old and angry widow instead of just spending the money from the thermo on new clothes and more drugs. It was not until the end of the film that it was revealed that Sadie had lost her daughter at a young age which might explain why she had isolated her from the world and, therefore, could need a new young human-being to take care of. But it never really became clear to me why Jane was so eager to build a friendship with Jane. If it was because of guilt, a need for love or something completely else I never really figured out.
However, even though I left the theater with a feeling of not being able to understand the friendship and the message of the movie, I still thought STARLET was a great film experience. The film was rough, sweet, funny and serious all at the same time without losing its sense of realism. This was reinforced by the beautiful and simple cinematography which really played significant role in the film and made it a visual joy. On top of that you can add great performances by all characters in the film. Especially, the leading roles of Jane and Sadie played by film debutants Dree Hemingway and Besedka Johnson were a pure pleasure to watch. I would highly recommend this film to everyone who could use a smile on their face. The odd and somewhat unrealistic friendship that blossom between Jane and Sadie in STARLET touches your heart and make you believe in a better future for both of them.