The title Starf*cker perfectly encapsulates the feeling of this particular slice of cinema. Starring Erik Fellows as wannabe celebrity Jimmy Starr, the film follows its vapid protagonist as he relentlessly pursues a career in acting. The premise is centered around the fact that Starf*cker‘s central character is a narcissist with BPD, ADD, and sex addiction, which sets up a wide margin for offense caused before the movie has even begun.
Starting with a visual introduction to the seedier side of Hollywood, Starf*cker evokes a number of stereotypes. Starr is the classic “whatever it takes” type of glory hound, and he openly employs whatever manipulative tactics he can to try to get ahead. This doesn’t actually make the character instantly unlikable, particularly as Erik Fellows brings him to life with a self-assured hypnotism that makes him particularly convincing as a narcissist.
Starf*cker then sets about introducing a cast of characters who are similarly unlikable but not entirely unsympathetic. There’s the hapless Hollywood newcomer taken in (and taken advantage of) by Starr, the lesbian best friends (Starf*cker‘s transparent attempt at virtue signaling), the depraved producer willing to exploit his power over the young actor, and Starr’s brother, who is depressed after the apparent breakdown of his marriage. All of Starf*cker‘s characters serve some purpose, although its general story is bloated to the point of confusion, despite being relatively simplistic.
Starf*cker primarily concerns Starr’s pursuit of fame, but it also chronicles the pitfalls of life in Hollywood. Starr’s attempts to find success in show business collide with his personal history with his ex, and this sees the unraveling of both his career and his life in Hollywood. Alongside this, Starr’s sibling reveals that they’re transgender, and a subplot focuses on her transition – which also comes with revelations about Starr’s childhood that attempt to reframe how the character is perceived.
Starf*cker Tries To Be More, But It’s As Hollow As Its Protagonist
There are key issues with Starf*cker‘s subtext and its attempts at conveying deeper themes. It’s primarily presented as a comedy, which is key – it’s a film about the excessive indulgence of Hollywood and the unforgiving nature of the film industry. However, despite this providing ample opportunity for Jimmy Starr to reflect on himself, Starf*cker incorporates elements of excess in its own story: the most significant of which are Jimmy’s relationship with his ex having dissolved as a result of a miscarriage, and the way in which Jimmy’s sister’s story is explored.
In a film as flagrantly insensitive as Starf*cker, miscarriage is seemingly treated with the appropriate weight. It’s not joked about, but it hints at a much deeper aspect to Jimmy that it simply doesn’t examine. It’s actually Starf*cker‘s jokes about the trans community that are perhaps its worst crime, because it’s all too clear that the writers did not understand how to make the story work. Unpacking the various elements of why Starf*cker comes off as entirely ignorant of trans issues would take far more time than a film of its stature warrants, but it boils down to two key points: its jokes are borderline transphobic, and it skims over the most important elements of the character’s transition.
Ultimately, Starf*cker is a film that revels in its shock value. Demonstrating the depravity and the insensitivity of Hollywood is something it does well, but there’s no real substance to any of its characters. It’s an incredibly hollow imagining of some of the most unpleasant human beings imaginable, and that makes it feel like one of the most bizarre fever dreams imaginable. However, this actually implausibly works in its favor, lending a meta edge to its story that serves to underpin its general message.
It’s not entirely clear what the intention behind Starf*cker is, particularly as its story seems to shift from one idea to the next faster than it can even attempt to explain. There’s no discernible growth from any particular character, but instead a wealth of disjointed implications of social commentary that don’t really fit the story itself. It’s overall narrative is barely comprehensible, and the low production quality is at odds with its attempt to depict the glitz of Hollywood. However, a strong performance from Erik Fellows backed up by a sound effort from the rest of Starf*cker‘s cast does make for a tolerable experience, albeit one that will leave you feeling as confused and mentally violated as many of its characters.
Summary: Starf*cker clearly attempts to make a statement about Hollywood, but it ultimately can’t escape the fact that it’s a comedy with no laughs and a tragedy with no purpose.
Highlights: Erik Fellows brings some genuine charisma to an otherwise empty role, and is ultimately responsible for making Starf*cker watchable.