Stardom tracks the life of a model through the eyes of television. Every single shot in Stardom is from an interview, television show, or newscast. It is an interesting idea that never follows through. Stardom could be about the effect of celebrity on a young woman. Or it could be about the intrusiveness of today's media and their all-encompassing desire for tabloid news. Instead, Stardom is really about nothing, which really is a shame, since director Denys Arcand (Poverty and Other Delights, Love & Human Remains) can do much better.

Tina Menzhal (Jessica Pare, Lost and Delirious, Possible Worlds) is a simple hockey player from a small Canadian town. A photograph of her at a game rockets her into the world of modeling, where she is able to live the high life in Montreal and Paris. The main problem with Arcand's method of telling Menzhal's story is that her life seems so boring. All of a sudden, Menzhal goes from nobody to model. What happened in between? She goes through a couple of relationships, notably one with restaurateur Barry Levine (Dan Akroyd, Loser, Diamonds). Arcand conveniently has a photographer following Menzhal around at every opportunity, filming her every movie, although he has no idea what he may or may not do with the footage.

This allows for some glimpse into Menzhal as a person, but not much. Menzhal and Pare remain aloof and unknown for the entire movie. Arcand never reveals what Menhzal as a person is truly about. The other characters are worse off. Menzhal has the lion's share of the screen time, and her character has little development. Everybody else is a mere caricature. There is so much going on here and Arcand ignores all of it. How does all this fame affect Menzhal personally? Why does she seem to fixate on older men? What drives her as a person? The only time any aspect of her personality comes out is when she is addressing the cameraman. At every other opportunity she is wearing the mask of her public persona. Her agent and boyfriends understandably want her away from the camera, but that doesn't help the viewer.

Stardom gets worse as it goes along, mainly because of Arcand and Jacob Potashink's script. Imagine watching a television where every show focuses on one subject. The subject is Tina Menzhal. Now imagine that every show is a watered down version of Entertainment Tonight, Hard Copy, A Current Affair, or any of the other multitude of garbage. These are the shows following Menzhal around. There are many shows, which also means there are many different announcers, each of which is annoying and stereotyped. Each time one of them appears is just another reminder about how bad Stardom is. The only possible explanation for their trite and banal dialogue is a crude attempt at satire, but satire should be funny; this is far from it. There are some references to MTV, Barbara Walters and Jerry Springer, but why? Arcand doesn't really do anything with them; they just appear so people can recognize them. Some of the shows that Menzhal chooses to appear on just make her seem like an idiot, as do her responses to the hosts' questions. Stardom's destiny is anything but fame.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 43 minutes, Rated R for language and sexual content.

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