Childstar (Canada; 98 min.)

directed by: Don McKellar
starring: Don McKellar; Mark Rendall; Jennifer Jason Leigh
Michael says: "In what was surprisingly a disappointing film at the Festival (not because it was bad, but because of what McKellar has already produced), CHILDSTAR is the second film written and directed by Canadian talent Don McKellar after the superb LAST NIGHT. Combining his wry, quirky humor with a pointed look at Hollywood, particularly the child actor’s forced to grow up ahead of their time; McKellar’s CHILDSTAR tries a little too hard, and ultimately fails to deliver the goods. Along the way, we do get some terrific moments, especially the first quarter of the film, before things start to go awry. McKellar plays Rick, an independent film director who finds himself employed as a driver for Taylor Brandon Burns, a twelve-year-old, American, child-actor who has come to Canada to star in a big-budget, Hollywood action film. Also in the mix is Taylor’s mom (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who uses a variety of methods to protect the interests of her son, and quickly ends up sleeping with Rick. There’s not much point to elaborating on the plot, since that is the major weakness of the film. Still, CHILDSTAR is worth seeing if you’re a fan of McKellar’s, which I certainly am. 3 cats"

Bruce says: "Don McKellar (WAYDOWNTOWN, LAST NIGHT, CLEAN, WHERE THE TRUTH LIES) has a great acting resume. LAST NIGHT, which he directed, is a cult gem. What a disappointment, then, to see CHILDSTAR, a film withnothing much to recommend it.

"The story is about Taylor Brandon Burns (Mark Rendell) a young pre-adolescent actor who happens to be insufferable on and off the set. One thing for sure, he can act. Everyone who has a film with a twelve year old lead wants Taylor. He travels with his mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who could care less about his welfare. Her main concern is that her son has a tutor, not so that he could learn something but to keep the authorities off her back if he is caught without a legal chaperone. Mom likes to shop and to play around with the local men when her son is on location.

"Rick Shiller (Don McKellar) is hired as a driver for Taylor and Suzanne Burns. He ends up in Suzanne’s bed the first night and graduates to tutor shortly thereafter. Taylor wants what he wants when he wants it. When Rick refuses to kowtow to Taylor, Taylor says, "I could always tell my mother you sexually abused me." Rick replies, "No you couldn’t. She wouldn’t believe you. I’m fucking her." What a way to establish a rapport with a twelve year old. The core of the drama is Taylor’s disappearance from the set, running off with a hooker/actress.

"The acting is decent but it is difficult to judge a film on various levels when one has no interest in the subject. Precocious child actors are a hackneyed stereotype; it is difficult to generate much enthusiasm when the plot is centered on their misbehavior. 2 cats"