While perhaps the environment for when a film is released is not a necessary fact to include in a review, it seems prevalent for Stargirl. For a movie to be put on Disney+ in this time of lockdown and outbreak, this movie seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
Directed by Fast Color’s brilliant Julia Hart, Stargirl feels like just the warm, hug of a film we need in these perilous times.
Based on a best-selling book by Jerry Spinelli, the movie revolves around Leo who sadly loses his father when he is very young. When an incident happens at school, Leo mysteriously receives ties every birthday. Whilst practising for marching band. Leo spots a mysterious girl across the field. Finding out her name is Stargirl, Leo is immediately enthralled by this girl whose outfits and outlook on life get crazier Soon the sleepy town becomes a hubbub of excitement thanks to Stargirl and her talents. Could she be magical?
Julia Hart has an appropriate name for her filmmaking. Whether it is Miss Stevens or Fast Color, she has a certain knack for making movies with a lot of spirit and heart. Stargirl is no exception. This quaint and charming movie’s crux is about happiness and care for one another. Stargirl’s main ideologies are about what connects us and why someone from nowhere can be so standout and move us in many different. Hart effortlessly turns this charming escapade into a compelling and lovely feature.
Although the film, and possibly the book, has this somewhat manic pixie girl trope, the movie does well in bringing her to life whilst also understanding what makes her tick beyond her quirks. Grace VanderWaal is largely responsible for the ukulele playing, singing stranger who brings a sense of unity to her school and coaxes Leo out of his shell. She layers Stargirl (named similarly like Lady Bird,) so she is much more than just the distinctive figure at this school – though that is what she is best known for here. Graham Verchere is great if, albeit, a bit of an underdeveloped, weak character compared to opposite Stargirl.
Stargirl has stunning cinematography by Bryce Fortner whose gorgeous and evocative palette of the desert is filled with yearning. He embellishes this place to make it feel vacant yet magical all at once. Brimming with hues of orange, this movie s thus an exquisite watch, even on your TV screen.
This is complimented by a masterful score by Rob Simonsen (who also did the score for Fast Color, another must listen.) Simonsen’s music here adds a layer of dreamlike enchantment to Stargirl. Plus there are some classic and original songs that enhance this jubilant teenage experience.
The combined effort of the filmmakers makes Stargirl more than just a quaint film and gifts it something special. Though there is a hankering to dive a little bit deeper and spend a little bit longer with the characters, this film will cause you to breakout into the biggest smile.
Stargirl is just a nice and necessary film to watch. Even if it is just to escape these unprecedented times.
Stargirl is available on Disney+