Stars at Noon
When I saw High Life in theaters in 2018, it was one I had to sit on and think about. It was fantastic visually and I’d like to think performances like the one in that film is what got Robert Pattinson the Batman/Bruce Wayne role. I recently just found out that Claire Denis had a follow up to High Life and it was on Hulu. Working on my watchlist there so I’m checking out a variety of different types of films. Had no expectations for Stars at Noon, I didn’t even know who starred in it or an inkling of what its about. Not often a film can just release without me knowing about it.
The film takes place in pandemic era Nicaragua, and follows a “journalist” who is going through a rough time going day to day. She often finds herself making acquaintances for money and picking up resources when she can just to get through the day. One night at a bar she befriends an English man and immediately forms a physical connection. Later she realizes that the man is sought out by other people and that his life could be in danger. The film stars Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn.
I will start with what I like. Denis is a fantastic filmmaker, that doesn’t need to be overstated. The rough and gritty setting is captured well. You can feel the heat and sweat come off each scene. Margaret Qualley holds the film together in the best performance I’ve seen from her. I think the release for this film was too quiet, otherwise people would be talking about her performance connecting it to awards season. Without her daring and powerful performance there isn’t much to write home about. The film is overlong and it feels it , which is usually a sign of a script that’s not working. There is just too many moving pieces and it verges on convolution. I’m sorry but Mr Taylor Swift (Joe Alwyn) is bad. He just seems so deadfaced, emotionless, and doesn’t show enough charisma. This severly impacts the chemistry of the two leads.
A long forgettable film, It would be easy to be even more harsh on this but I know Denis is great and this was just a blip. Maybe an overambitious adaptation that didn’t translate well or maybe this just wasn’t interesting enough for the screen. Its a shame that Qualley is so great in this, yet the film was just completely forgettable. I saw that this is one of two films released in 2022 by Denis, so I’ll check the other out hoping for better.