When your favorite single shot of the year occurs in a film that has thus far grossed a cool $78,000 at the box office, opening on a whopping six screens in the whole country, as opposed to, say, “The Dark Knight Rises” which thus far has grossed a cool $448 million and was showing on at least six screens in the one movie theater where I saw it on opening weekend, well, it is nigh impossible to actually track down a still of the image itself. So I beg forgiveness, dear reader, as I attempt to summarize this striking image via my melodramatic, idiotic prose.
As I have communicated before, my favorite shots tend to be framed simply but elegantly, primarily working to convey heaps of emotion and meaning. The shot that occurs in the latter half of Sean Baker’s indie gem “Starlet” is not technically ambitious, though it does utilize the glittering twilight of Los Angeles to fine effect, with the camera lingering just outside the passenger window of Jane’s (Dree Hemingway) car as it moves, probably west down Ventura Boulevard.
Jane’s situation at the moment the shot is served makes all the difference. She has just packed up her belongings, though they are far short of many, including her requisite faithful dog, and moved out of the house (room) where she was living. She does not know where she is going. She does not know where she will be staying. At present, her car is her home. Oh, and she is on the verge of flying to Paris with a geriatric recluse whom she has only just met and befriended. This would be enough to put anyone on edge or induce pangs of stress.
So what does Jane do?
She tilts her head back and laughs, stopping short of crazily but not by much.
That is my favorite shot of the year.
It is my favorite shot of the year because it captures with gracefully astounding perfection that feeling I dare say we have all at one time or another experienced, that feeling of an irrevocable, potentially damaging, possibly life-altering decision and having no idea which way it is going to go and not even caring which way it is going to go because that is for tomorrow and this is not even today – it is right the f--- now.
This shot is what it means to be alive.