Stardom from Denys Arcand is billed as a satiric look at the power of celebrity and the mediaís need to promote it and then devour it. Told through the lens of a dozen cameras, the story tells of the fluke discovery of an unknown beauty (Jessica Pare), her trajectory into stardom and the damage that is left in its wake.
The egomaniacal photographer, the amoral agent, the Jerry Springer look alike, and the MTV type announcers with intense enthusiasm for any celebrity are all fodder for lampooning. The fact you can now be famous just for being famous, rather than doing anything worthy of attention, is the obvious conclusion and Stardom had come out a decade ago, it would have been clever and refreshing, but in the year 2000 it falls flat. There are a few chuckles and insightful moments, but overall it is old, if sad, news.
The disappointment in Stardom is tied directly to Arcandís previously successful piercing of hypocrisy in his films like Decline of the American Empire and Jesus of Montreal. And in spite of the satirical tone, there is the darker under story of what beauty can do men. As if she were a pawn being moved along by forces beyond her control, Pare reeks havoc just because she is beautiful. Men who should know better want, no need, to possess and control her. There is the successful restaurateur (Dan Aykroyd) who leaves his business, wife and kids for her only to be hauled away for trying to kill her when she isnít exactly as he imagined she should be. Similar destruction awaits the Canadian Ambassador to the U.N. (Frank Langella) when he fails to keep her on his imaginary pedestal. The actors clearly had fun going over the top, but Arcandís message seems to be that the media is a ravenous, insatiable destroyer of people, but what is truly to be feared is a beautiful woman.
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