This VERY low budget Indie by Sean Baker won the prestigious Altman Award for 2012. I was compelled to find out what the fuss was about.
Imagine my surprise; a well-written, well-crafted, simple story about integrity, good intentions and issues of the elderly. I won't give away some of the more sensational plot-points, but the plentiful DVD extras explain that first impressions should not make one judgmental regarding the true make up of a person. The talented Mr Baker lets you know these people before adding an interesting element that may shock some (I found it mildly amusing).
Dree Hemingway is remarkable as Jane, a girl new to the San Fernando Valley, staying with friends while she establishes herself. She buys a thermos from a cranky old lady at a yard sale (the magnificent Besedka Johnson), later to find out there's $10K inside. This makes Jane uncomfortable, and she attempts to find out if the old lady might really need that money, a guilt-complex that results in an adventure of stalking, friendship, fondness, understanding and genuine love.
At age 85, it was Johnson's first film role, and she handles it like a pro. It's Jane's integrity and perseverance to know this old woman that is the gist of the film, a sweetness that can't help but move the viewer. It's a beautifully controlled relationship starting with suspicion, mutual interests, leading to genuine caring. I was totally taken in. The film still resonates with me, though I saw it over a week ago.
I won't give away the other plot points, but there are terrific supporting players; Stella Maeve as Jane's stoner best friend, Melissa, and James Ransone, great as Melissa's manic, stoner boyfriend.
It is to Mr Baker's credit that he let you know the sweetness of Jane before he drops the "bomb", about one-third into the film. A great lesson to not judge people before you know how good they can be.
It's "Not Rated", so be prepared for some surprises. A delightful film, in many ways, and a landmark film in pacing and development.
I admire "Starlet" very much.