Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kara Hayward, Liana Liberato, Jordana Spiro, Malin Akerman, Shea Whigham, Tony Hale, Adelaide Clemens, Lucas Jade Zumann, Madisen Beaty, Tina Parker, Natalie Canerday, J.D. Evermore, Farah White, Brandon Stanley, Quinn Gasaway, Sophi Bairley, Doug Jackson, Kristin Mann
Written by: Shannon Bradley-Colleary
Directed by: Martha Stephens
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 110
Date: 04/24/2020

To the Stars (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Poison Oklahoma

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

To the Stars is a stirring coming-of-age story set in Oklahoma in 1961 and touches on sexual taboos. Iris Deerborne (Kara Hayward, Moonrise Kingdom) is a shy, withdrawn teen with big, awkward glasses, who walks from her family's farm through the fields to high school every day. Her developing physique has drawn unwanted attention from cruel, shallow boys, and one day a stranger swoops in and saves her. She's Maggie (Liana Liberato), and even though she initially lies about her exotic life, and her father being a photographer for Life Magazine, she and Iris become fast friends. Iris gets a makeover, and attracts the attention of their family's sweet farm hand, Jeff (Lucas Jade Zumann), even though her hard-drinking, oversexed mother (Jordana Spiro) is repeatedly putting the moves on Jeff herself. Eventually, tension arises between Maggie and Iris, and we learn the real reason Maggie's family moved here. Director Martha Stephens uses wide-open rural spaces to recall dirt-road classics like The Last Picture Show. Even though she drifts back and forth between poetry and soapy secret-revealing, this unevenness is generally held together by the consistent, touching performances, especially by Hayward and Liberato, but also by veterans like the great, iguana-like Shea Whigham as Iris's soft-spoken father, as well as Malin Akerman and Tony Hale.

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