I’ll have a review of Sean Baker’s “Starlet” for you a little later, but first I want to share a clip from the film with you. It’s the story of a girl in her 20s living in the San Fernando Valley, where she meets an old woman at a garage sale. The woman sells her a vase, and inside, the girl finds $10,000 in cash that the old woman didn’t know existed. What results is a very strange friendship, and a very charming movie.
Dree Hemingway is the star of the film, and I’m going to bet this is just the start of what we’ll see from her. She does very delicate, careful work as Jane, who is still young and still figuring out who she is, but who also seems to be possessed of a greater sense of self than most of her peers. And, yes, she’s one of those Hemingways. Her mother is Mariel Hemingway, making her the great-granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway. She is tall and striking and seems to made up of about 96% legs.
Her co-star, playing the older and far more furious Sadie, is Besedka Johnson, and it is hard to believe this is her first film. She has a very natural screen presence, and her chemistry with Hemingway crackles in scene after scene. It’s a relationship between them that is defined largely by guilt. Jane feels guilty because she found the money and Sadie didn’t, and she’s concerned that the old woman is completely alone. She starts to try to help Sadie, but the old woman is convinced that something will be expected from her in return, and she doesn’t want to be obligated to anyone. She doesn’t want anyone to want or need anything from her, and vice versa.
The clip we’ve got today is from early in their relationship. Jane has started to force herself into Sadie’s life, and she takes her to the grocery store, then brings her home. Once they’re inside, this short scene takes place, and it’s just a nice demonstration of Baker’s observational eye and the natural rhythms of the film.
“Starlet” is opening in limited release tomorrow.