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‘Stargirl’ Review – A Well-Intentioned Mess

3 min read

When Stargirl shines, it does so for all to see. Alas, the film can’t seem to break free of its overly-dramatic atmosphere.

In hindsight, Stargirl was the perfect novel for Disney to adapt. While I don’t know how similar this version of the story is to its source, the movie has some wonderful things to say. Its messages ring deep with magic.

The film’s first third works fine. In fact, until the halfway point, Stargirl seems like something special.

Singer/Songwriter Grace VanderWaal enters the acting scene with, well… grace. Her performance proves a perfect fit to her role, both aesthetic-wise and in spirit. Graham Verchere acts as the film’s standout, with a charming and awkward play. The two have wonderfully-adorable chemistry, sold by both.

Stargirl‘s main standouts, though, are its cinematography and score.

The film’s desert setting provides a unique feel and allows for a galaxy of gorgeous shots. Depth-of-field and lighting are both used to great effect. Not only do they play their part in setting the tone, but they work well in grasping the eyes of the viewer.

The movie’s score is magical. Ethereal sounds partner with spacey vibes to create a soundtrack like no other. It mirrors the film’s essence and acts as a driving force behind its best parts. It’s hard to imagine Stargirl with a different sound.

Something left to the viewer’s imagination, though, is the movie’s ending, that which I loved. There’s enough powerful storytelling packed within its last ten minutes, I almost forgave the film’s faults. Unfortunately, there were too many to forget.

Stargirl‘s first half feels a bit more serious than need be. The film’s tone, though, still feels balanced. Halfway through, the story takes a turn. Its major conflict arises out of thin air. Its characters act with little motivation, and exaggerate beyond the bounds of realism. The movie attempts to manipulate its viewer’s emotions to the point of laughability.

The story’s next few stops come speeding like a bullet. Something major, both in terms of plot and message, feels sudden. The movie’s failure to emphasize the turn’s importance undermines its biggest goal. This is Stargirl‘s second derailing.

A monologue, spoken by VanderWaal, grants the film a minor resurgence. Following close is a turning point for our main character, Leo. Both of these events repair the movie a bit. After all, in sincere scenes such as these, Stargirl‘s heart beats the loudest.

Unfortunately, the films good intentions fail to drown out its biggest missteps. Because by the story’s end, the damage has already been dealt. It’s hard to enjoy all the movie has to say, when it said so in such a rushed and exaggerated manner.

Stargirl flaunts a strong cast, gorgeous cinematography, and wondrous scoring. Sadly, its light is covered by forced drama and sloppy execution. Sure, it has the potential to touch a few hearts. But at the end of the day, the movie is nothing more than a much-muddled version of a masterpiece.

Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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