Sequoia 1 Thu, Oct 4, 2012 9:45 PM
Rafael 1 Sat, Oct 6, 2012 10:00 PM


Directed by Sean Baker

Starring: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, James Ransone

Produced by: Blake Ashman-Kipervaser, Kevin Chinoy, Francesca Silvestri, Patrick Cunningham, Chris Maybach, Sean Baker

The worlds of bingo and porn form an unlikely backdrop to writer-director Sean Baker’s deft film, which heads in surprising directions with emotionality laid as bare as its explicit sex. Gamine newcomer Dree Hemingway (daughter of actress Mariel) is Jane, a newbie to the San Fernando Valley porn industry who spends most of her plentiful free time shiftlessly getting high and partying. It’s not until she meets Sadie (Besedka Johnson), a taciturn, lonely old woman who just wants to be left in peace, that Jane’s life takes a deeper, unexpected turn. Baker lends the unadorned, naturalistic sensitivity of a Cassavetes to a story that could have felt like exploitation in the hands of a lesser filmmaker. In her first film role, octogenarian Johnson channels Sadie’s sense of herself as used up and irrelevant—precisely what we worry Jane will become—with an impressive, memorable dexterity.  She's heartbreaking to watch, as is Starlet, for all the right reasons.

Film Note Writer: Michelle Devereaux