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First Look Review - STARCROSSED

Four starcrossed lovers converge at a villa in the Hollywood hills.




Review by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Directed by: Chase Mohseni

Starring: Mischa Barton, Eric Roberts, Grant Harvey, Kristin Carey, Ben Reed



Starcrossed is its own narcissus myth, a film smitten with its own vanity and querulous sense of self-importance: if thou gaze long into a navel, then the navel will also gaze into thee.


Meet Benjamin (Grant Harvey), the beauteous yet beleaguered lead of Chase Mohseni’s pensive LA drama Starcrossed. Ben is a very good looking aspirant author who spends his days writing at his desk and his nights frequenting the sort of tastefully lit cocktail lounge where you never have to wait for a drink. He also has a nice little side gig where he knocks off an exceptionally glamorous older woman (Kristin Carey) for pin money, and, one evening, chances upon big eyed Mischa Barton (playing Kat), who immediately takes a shine to him. Sounds an utterly brilliant life, doesn’t it? Well, no, it isn’t brilliant, actually, because Ben exists in one of those navel gazing dirges that feels incredibly sorry for itself throughout, turning the dream situation above into an existential nightmare of thwarted ambitions, power play and self-pity. Some people are just never satisfied!


He’s a sensitive soul our Benjamin, his name redolent of other sketchy young men at the cusp of a future they have no idea how to navigate, ala The Graduate, and his moonlight profession as an ersatz inamorato places him within a concise line of cinema’s lonely Lotharios; Gere in American Gigolo, Prince in Under the Cherry Moon, Schneider in Deuce Bigelow; lovermen whose life of lust and luxury brings them naught but desolation and disappointment. We can tell immediately that Ben is all sad because we have one of those scenes where he stands in the shower looking very glum, the water cascading over his chiselled melancholy. It’s interesting that female representations of prostitution are rarely so poetic, a double standard that the film does pick up on in its narrative, with Barton’s character also being a sort of escort, who is employed by Anthony (Ben Reed) the husband of our Benjamin’s sugar mommy! What are the chances? Perhaps we’ll find out as a twist of circumstance conspires to locate all four of our starcrossed lovers at rich Anthony and Lucy’s lux villa, deep in the sparkling jewel box of the Hollywood hills.


Anxious strings murmur at the edge of the soundtrack as whispery dialogue frets over ‘the version of ourselves we give people to feel safe’ and the meaning of Ben’s Hungarian tattoo (‘Szerelem, it means love in Hungarian’- lol), while the film becomes a magazine deep adaptation of Before Sunrise, a will-they-won’t-they-who-cares romantic drama. In lieu of any real conflict, Ben and Kay agonise over the moral relativity of their existence, with Ben (oddly) calling Kat a whore, and inveighing against her lack of prospects - ‘No future, no future’, the one-time author rails. But don’t worry, because Ben eventually notices that Kat is ‘beautiful’, so it just might be alright.


It is apposite that the villa houses a golden lit swimming pool that both Benjamin and Kat dive into, as Starcrossed is its own narcissus myth, a film smitten with its own vanity and querulous sense of self-importance: if thou gaze long into a navel, then the navel will also gaze into thee. It’s ever so fascinating to discover that beautiful and rich people have problems too, and while I’m as sympathetic as the next guy for a fella who gets to have sex with two attractive women within an hour, free reign of someone else’s expansive villa while discussing Important Things and no day job to get up for, it is difficult to decipher what Ben’s major problem is, or, indeed, the guiding purpose of Starcrossed. As Ben worries about his future in writing, Kay consoles him by saying that his book ‘didn’t drone on’ and that it had ‘a beginning middle and end’. Perhaps they should have got him to write this film.

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