We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
In another time and another place, "Starlet" could have inspired a short story by Chekhov or O. Henry — a story about two women, one 22, the other 85, who are linked by one of those accidental plot twists explaining why they come together. Indeed, for almost an hour, the story is all the movie is about: That, and performances so effective they're enough all by themselves, even while we know next to nothing about the characters.
Jane (Dree Hemingway) is a leggy blonde, the type who causes people to observe, "she'd be a real beauty, if only she did something with herself." She dresses carelessly, does little with her hair and makeup, lives with two roommates in an apartment building in the San Fernando Valley that you could hardly describe if you had to. She sleeps late, has the first of two or three cigarettes for the day, and takes her pet Chihuahua tooling around in search of yard sales.
She wanders into a front yard so densely planted that she almost doesn't see the old lady hidden in the shadows. This is Sadie (Besedka Johnson), plainspoken, no-nonsense, with not a shred of "sweet little old lady" about her. "Does this hold dead people?" she asks, holding up a possible purchase. "No!" says Sadie crossly. "That's a vase! It's a dollar." Jane buys it. "No refunds!" Sadie tells her.
Jane takes it home, cleans it and is surprised to find that the vase is stuffed with rolls of $100 bills, tightly wrapped in rubber bands. She spends some of the money on a fake-diamond dog halter. Her dog is a male, but the halter says "Starlet," so that becomes the dog's name. The dog doesn't care.