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Old 04-22-2011, 07:05 PM
Grown Up Movie Star (2009)

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Grown Up Movie Star (2009)

WRITER/DIRECTOR: Adriana Maggs
CAST: Tatiana Maslany, Shawn Doyle, Andy Jones, Steve Cochrane, Jonny Harris, Julia Kennedy


Grown Up Movie Star is a little-seen Canadian film that was nominated for best film in the 'Dramatic - World Cinema' category at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival...and whose lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, won the Sundance award for 'Best Breakout Performance'.

If someone asked me to describe the movie, I'd probably tell them that, in a nutshell, it is a darkly comic coming-of-age tale that can perhaps be described along the lines of The Slums Of Beverly Hills crossed with American Beauty or The Ice Storm. To be fair, although Grown Up Movie Star shares thematic elements with those movies, it will not remind you of them. It has a pretty unique tone of voice that isn't exactly comparable to those films.

The movie follows 13-year-old Ruby (Tatiana Maslany). Ruby and her younger sister Rose (Julia Kennedy) are forced to go live with their disgraced ex-NHL player father (Shawn Doyle) after their mother runs off on them.
Ruby is at the age where she is desperately trying to figure out who she is, and her search for self-identity is really the drive of the movie.

Now...Ruby's journey of self-discovery ends up involving a lot of weird stuff - some of which has garnered the movie a controversial reputation. She walks in on her dad getting oral sex. She develops a crush on a boy at school but isn't sure how she's supposed to act towards him (leading to a funny scene where she asks him if he "wants a blowjob" in a perfunctory manner even though she isn't sure what a 'blowjob' is). She and her friend awkwardly try to experiment with lesbianism. All of this culminates with Ruby's disastrous attempts to lose her virginity (to the aforementioned boy from school).
Also there is a subplot involving her dad's wheelchair-bound friend Stuart (Jonny Harris), who is a photographer and eventually begins developing an unhealthy attraction to Ruby.

Here's the thing: even with all of this going on, the movie never feels "dirty" or exploitative. And the credit for that goes to Tatiana Maslany. She makes it all seem perfectly natural; just another day in the life of this girl.
Rest assured, the movie never comes off like Larry Clark's Kids or Harmony Korine's Gummo (films that similarly involved kids in disturbing situations). While watching Grown Up Movie Star, I never got the impression that any of it was supposed to be "shocking" for shock's sake. There is a real story here filled with real characters; it just so happens that some unsavory things happen.

Before going any further, it must be said that Tatiana Maslany completely carries the movie, and is very much deserving of her 'Breakout Performance' award at Sundance. As Ruby is the central character, and with a lot of objectionable things going on around her, the success or failure of this film rested on the actress in the lead. Maslany not only carries it off admirably, she makes it all seem real and natural and creates an endearing and memorable character. Despite everything that happens, the movie ends up feeling rather heartwarming, and a big part of that has to do with her performance.
Maslany's first major film role was 2004's Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed, where she basically stole the movie with her eccentric character 'Ghost'. Since then she has appeared in the Greg Kinnear dramedy Flash Of Genius, the Woody Harrelson superhero spoof Defendor, and horror fare such as The Messengers and George A. Romero's Diary Of the Dead. Most recently she has starred in Naoko Ogigami's indie comedy/drama Toilet. I honestly think Maslany is a talent to watch out for and I think it would be a crime if she never went on to bigger and better things.

This is definitely a movie to catch if you can find it (I'm not even sure if it's available in the States). There have been numerous "quirky coming-of-age movies" over the years, and not all of them manage to pull it off. Grown Up Movie Star is one that does and will stick with you.

Last edited by Elgyn; 04-22-2011 at 11:13 PM..
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