Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Dec 6, 2012
    75
    The film itself deserves praise for its portraits of these two women and the different worlds they inhabit.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 6, 2012
    75
    It's an odd film in some ways. The porn milieu is detailed in ways at once sparing, in terms of actual screen time, and bluntly explicit. The odd-couple relationship guiding the story has its familiarities. But where it counts, 'Starlet' ... allows its characters room to maneuver within the potential cliches.
  3. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Nov 20, 2012
    91
    Sean Baker's singular little ultra-indie is a strikingly unsentimental study in female friendship between unmoored souls in L.A.'s bleached, glamour-challenged San Fernando Valley.
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 4, 2012
    83
    The story retains an inscrutable tone that sometimes makes its emotional qualities feel remote, but it still delivers a powerful message about the challenge of self-diagnosis by rooting it in universal experience
  5. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    Nov 8, 2012
    80
    It's a character study about faith in connectedness, with an unforced love for cross-generational companionship that's special indeed.
  6. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Nov 8, 2012
    63
    Jane's friendship with Sadie is the one thing that cuts through the numbness - though the film's so low-key, even emotional revelations feel pretty muted.
  7. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Nov 8, 2012
    80
    Starlet shows enough of her unbalanced, unsustainable situation to make sense of her connection to Sadie, however frail a ballast her new friend might be. Their need for each other is disarmingly sweet, but far from sticky.
  8. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Dec 6, 2012
    75
    Starlet sneaks up on you. Set in the same sun-dried, strip-malled precincts of the San Fernando Valley where "Boogie Nights" took place - and set, in part, in that same porn industry milieu - Sean Baker's low-key, low-budget indie traces the relationship that develops between a young actress and an isolated, elderly woman.
  9. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Nov 23, 2012
    75
    Convincing performances from Hemingway and the charmingly crabby Johnson and an unhurried pace ensure that Baker's film achieves its modest goals.
  10. Reviewed by: Diego Costa
    Nov 8, 2012
    63
    The film works as a charming aesthetic exercise with its jerky camera and inadvertent cuts, as a contemplation on intergenerational female bonding.
  11. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Nov 7, 2012
    75
    Starlet is an unusually subtle, quiet character study - especially given the potentially salacious subject matter - that builds to a quietly powerful climax.
  12. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Nov 4, 2012
    90
    A mismatched-friends drama whose overall sensitivity is belied by a couple of clumsily contrived plot points, Sean Baker's Starlet pairs story and setting perfectly.
  13. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Nov 8, 2012
    90
    The bright sun that blasts through Starlet, a thrillingly, unexpectedly good American movie about love and a moral awakening, bathes everything in a radiant light, even the small houses with thirsty lawns and dusty cars.
  14. Reviewed by: Katie Walsh
    Nov 8, 2012
    75
    Starlet is an interesting effort from indie filmmaker Sean Baker (this is his fourth feature), and signals the arrival of Dree Hemingway as one to watch.
  15. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 6, 2012
    60
    Dree Hemingway, daughter of Mariel, commits to some unnecessary nudity, but also impresses with her subtlety.
  16. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Nov 4, 2012
    70
    Though named after a party girl's pet Chihuahua, Starlet could just as easily describe the two exceptional first-timers making their debuts in this brittle, beautifully understated San Fernando Valley character study.
  17. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Nov 7, 2012
    70
    Director Sean Baker, co-writing his fourth feature with Chris Bergoch, does some deft balancing of his own: His genuine admiration for these two women extends to their idiosyncrasies, yet they never become fools, whores, saints, or coots.
  18. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Nov 20, 2012
    50
    The relationship is the best thing about the film, which otherwise feels hopelessly sad and tawdry.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 5
  2. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. PHL
    Jan 11, 2013
    8
    The critics got this right (and I'm surprised the user score is so low). I loved this movie. It's absolutely charming, and I would recommendThe critics got this right (and I'm surprised the user score is so low). I loved this movie. It's absolutely charming, and I would recommend you see it. It's a New York Time's Critics' Pick! Full Review »
  2. Dec 6, 2012
    9
    This little ultra indie is strikingly unsentimental.
  3. Dec 28, 2013
    9
    This movie succeeded on its mission brilliantly. As in life, the most complex situations flower from the simplest premises, telling aThis movie succeeded on its mission brilliantly. As in life, the most complex situations flower from the simplest premises, telling a genuine, plausible story, with no pretensions. There are no cheats no trap doors no back doors no diversionary plot twists. We just walk a journey with two people who become unlikely friends, and the audience is taken along their ride of discovery, learning with them as they go, in the same world we all know.

    This movie is first-rate in all the areas that matter the script, direction, performances and the low-budget, indie filmmaking is the only way to have gone with this one. A big Hollywood studio would have butchered this one.

    The only criticisms I have are very modest ones. Some drama with the minor characters does not seem necessary? Yet, I would give this a pass. Life has its distractions, and this is a movie about life. Also, the well-worn premise of the "unlikely pair" an arbitrary two people whom fate has thrown together makes the first few scenes predictable. Don't let that push you away. Hang in there. And I do recommend multiple viewings.

    I will not give away anything about this story. You deserve the same experience I had. That said, I will leave you with a question to ponder, and don't take it up until you have finished watching: is it ever good to hold a secret, even a big secret, away from someone who has every right to know?
    Full Review »