Starry Eyes (2014)

Starry Eyes
Director: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Writer: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Cast: Alex Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Noah Segan, Fabianne Therese, Pat Healy, Maria Olsen
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morissey.]

Plot:
Like so many young women in LA, Sarah (Alex Essoe) dreams of becoming an actress. So she runs from audition to audition and keeps her head over water working as a waitress. After one audition that didn’t go too well, Sarah runs into the bathroom there and has a minor meltdown: she screams, she pulls her hair (which is a frequently used punishment for herself) and she gets caught by the casting director (Maria Olsen) doing so. But instead of completely disqualifying Sarah, it piques the director’s interest. It seems all Sarah has to decide now is how far she is really willing to go to become a star.

Starry Eyes starts off well enough and then loses its way around the middle and never finds it again. There were interesting moments but ultimately the film doesn’t rise above mediocrity.

starry-eyes

I expected the film to go more along the lines of Cheap Thrills and was surprised when it took an actual supernatural turn. And admittedly satanists aren’t really my cup of tea, but even if it had been something else, I think I would have preferred a more down-to-earth explanation. But that is not actually my biggest problem with the film.

Because that was the way it treats female ambition. Sarah’s ambitions and dreams are made pathological right from the start (with the hair-pulling punishment she doles out). When she decides to follow them, she literally stops being human, as if humanity and success don’t go together at all, at least not for women. This film wouldn’t have worked with a male lead at all, because men’s ambition is something to be applauded instead of vilified. Men aren’t vicitims of their own ambition, Sarah is.

starry-eyes1That dichotomy could have been explored in the film. There was a lot of potential in general for social critique. But the film ignores that and would rather send the message “good girls don’t do stuff like that, so either choose success or being good and better choose being good.” Because by the end, Sarah, despite her achieved success and beauty, is not somebody you identify with anymore, despite Alex Essoe’s good performance.

But after what felt like a solid hour of puking and hair loss and horribleness I was generally not interested in the film or Sarah’s plight anymore. Did I curse myself for sitting in the film? No. But neither did I enjoy it a lot.

starry-eyes2Summarizing: Watchable but far from as good as it could have been.

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