<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 1, 2023



CLAIRE DENIS is a French filmmaker best known for films like “Beau Travail”, “Trouble Every Day” and “High Life”. Last year, she made an English language film, “Stars at Noon”, based on a 1986 novel by Denis Johnson. 

It won the Cannes Filmfest grand prix runner up award last year, as the coveted Palme D’or was won by “Triangle of Sadness”.

The lead character is Trish (Margaret Qualley, the daughter of actress Andie MacDowell), an American travel writer stranded in Nicaragua while the Covid pandemic is going on.

She wrote about the extra judicial killings there. Thus, the ruling government is hostile to her and has even confiscated her passport, so she cannot just fly home to the USA.

Penniless, she has become a prostitute who sells her body for money to get by, since basic necessities have been scarce due to the political crisis going on in the country. 

She then meets a British guy, Daniel (Joe Alwyn), who says he is a consultant for an oil company. She offers herself to him for sex, as long as he’ll pay in dollars. They go to his hotel and make out. 

Trish sees Daniel with a man who she says is a Costa Rican cop who then tries to harass them. 

Daniel hides in Trish fleabag hotel and they eventually fall for each other, even if Daniel says he is already married. 

It becomes apparent that Daniel is in Nicaragua for some nefarious reasons and he becomes wanted to the government as more people want to get him, including an American CIA agent.

Claire Denis is respected by most foreign critics as an accomplished auteur but we’re afraid “Stars at Noon” is a big failure. She just misfired in this one, plain and simple. 

But the French apparently just love their own so the movie still won grand prix in Cannes, even if it’s such a big bore to watch. 

Its biggest mistake is that it does not have sympathetic characters that viewers will root for.

The roles of Trish and Daniel are both nebulous and sketchily written that we just don’t really care whatever happens to them.

Add to that the fact that both Qualley and Alwyn seem miscast in their respective roles and they absolutely have no winning chemistry on screen. 

Qualley is quite good in ‘Maid”, a mini series where she played a young mom who left her abusive boyfriend. But although she was good in it, the show failed to sustain our interest in her story. 

We remember her own mother also played her bipolar mom in that show.

As Trish, she figures in several sex scenes and she has no qualms about taking her clothes off before the camera even if she is quite flat chested. 

But obviously, disrobing is not enough for her to come up with a memorable performance as her character is not at all persuasively fleshed out. 

Joe Alwyn is a British actor who we thought would hit it big in Hollywood after he debuted auspiciously in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”, which was directed by Ang Lee in 2016. 

But his career didn’t fly and his performance here just lacks passion or conviction to make his character more riveting.

Now, his main claim to fame is that he was the boyfriend of Taylor Swift for six years and he even co-wrote some of her songs while they were together. For that, he even won a Grammy Award.

The movie itself is set in a volatile Central American country but it’s presented without any political context or any social investigation of its local conditions.

It’s said to be a thriller but simply lacks suspense that the whole vague thing just collapses and fails to interest us. 

The meandering storytelling lacks coherence and is just so tedious. It moves so slowly that after a while, it looks like Denis just doesn’t know where to take it to make it more engaging viewing.