Stardom (2001)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Jessica Pare, Dan Aykroyd, Frank Langella
Extras: Trailer

’Stardom’ is an intriguing Canadian film, which takes a critical look at the media and celebrities. When a photographer sends a picture of hockey player Tina Menzhal (Jessica Pare) to a modeling agency, she suddenly becomes an overnight success. We follow Tina as she models for Canadian photographer Phillipe Gascon (Charles Berling) and then moves on to Paris and New York. Tina becomes involved with a restaurateur (Dan Aykroyd) and an ambassador (Frank Langella), all the while remaining at the top of the fashion game. But, all of Tina’s high must be balanced out by many lows, and the film shows us these as well.

What makes ’Stardom’ worth seeing is not its familiar story, but the original style in which the film was made. Save for the opening and closing of ’Stardom’, the film is shown purely through the cameras of the media. Be it a fashion expose, a documentary, a talk show, or a voyeur, we only get to see Tina’s life from the media’s point of view. Watching ’Stardom’ is similar to viewing a feature-length ’E! True Hollywood Story’. By using this device, co-writer/director Denys Arcand (’Jesus of Montreal’) is portraying the artificiality of entertainment reporting. Despite the fact that we spend 100 minutes following Tina, we never get to know her, nor does she ever get to speak her mind. But, this approach hurts the film as well. By keeping Tina distant, the viewer is put off by her, as we’re unsure of her true motivations and feelings. However, kudos must go to the creative team here for having a documentarian follow Tina, thus filling in the gaps between interviews and talk shows. And while the film is fiction, Arcand does take shots at institutions such as ’Entertainment Tonight’ and MTV. ’Stardom’ is not a great movie, and that may have to do with the fact that some of it just feels too real.

Universal Home Video ushers ’Stardom’ onto DVD. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. This transfer is very crisp and clear, showing only a minute amount of grain and only a few minor defects from the source print. The film contains several snowy, daytime scenes, and these scenes (which can typically show any grain on the picture) look very clear. The fleshtones are natural and true, while the colors in the film are vibrant and realistic. Some of the film was shot in black & white, and these scenes have a nice depth, as there isn’t too much contrast between the light and dark hues. The framing appears to be accurate, and there are no obvious compression problems.

The Dolby 2-channel Surround audio track is equally impressive, sounding better than some 5.1 tracks. The dialogue is clear and audible, and there is a great deal of surround sound action, displaying an impressive dynamic range. Equally of note is the bass response, demonstrated by techno music played throughout the film. The only extra on the disc is the theatrical trailer, which is shown full-frame.