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Stars at Noon (Film Review)

3 min read

Courtesy of Organic publicity

returns from futuristic deep space (High Life, 2018) back to present day South America during the COVID-19 Global pandemic. With the political overtones and uncertainty that fills the air, this of 's The Stars at Noon tries to position itself as a romantic thriller. The central characters being thrown together by circumstance and desperation, there is less romance to be found, making the overall story feel more like a tragedy waiting to happen.

Trish, an American journalist, finds herself trapped in Nicaragua. Having written a politically fused article damning the government, her passport has been taken and she is left to fend for herself. Prostituting herself for money and the bare essentials, she meets Daniel, an English oil businessman who is not all he seems to be. Amidst an instant connection the two outsiders share, they are soon perused by the Costa Rican police and are forced to go on the run.

Courtesy of Organic

While there is much to be admired in Denis' film, there is an overwhelming sense that something is missing. Although and play their parts well, the romance that is meant to blossom (not that anything could actually blossom in this tense environment) is not quite there. There is an understanding between Trish and Daniel, and later, a desperate need for companionship and an ally. But ultimately, we left to guess then assume that these two characters are simply using each other to escape the mess they each find themselves in. As well as this fragile relationship, the film feels overly long. Segments are slotted in between long scenes whether nothing happens to further the story. The makings of a tense thriller are underneath long shots of Trish just walking or the couple once again falling into bed. Denis may have wanted to convey a different breed of thriller but without tightened shots and a quicker pace, much is lost.

Courtesy of Organic

What keeps the action, even if its slower than anticipated, going throughout is the intrigue around these two characters. We learn about Trish through her conversations and pleads for help from the few who have been willing previously. Her precarious position seems to be one of her own makings and her need to comment on the social and political scene. She claims to be a journalist but everyone else, even Daniel, doesn't believe her. Daniel himself gives very bland answers and comes across secretive yet unprepared. These mysterious people never fully give away anything which is where the real tension is in the story.

The Stars at Noon's atmosphere is brilliantly conveyed on screen, we can feel the unsettling sticky heat radiate off the screen. Every drink that's drunk, every naked encounter is felt. Denis expertly makes us feel stuck in these impossible situations along with the characters. Though the rather anti-climatic end to the film does make sense within the context of the story, it does seem that there should be more to follow on from but this is all Denis is allowing us to witness. Just like how Qualley as Trish's eyes so frequently glaze over, this is how we are left, dazed, dripping in sweat and wondering, what next?

Stars at Noon will be available on Digital Download in the UK on 19th June