Brightest Star: Film Review

Courtesy of Gravitas Ventures
This dramedy suffers from its generic storyline and unsympathetic lead character.

A young man deals with career and romantic confusion in Maggie Kiley's debut feature.

A tale of romantic confusion so generic that its central character is simply billed as “The Boy,” Brightest Star is too dim to sustain interest even with its very brief running time. Maggie Kiley’s feature directorial debut is based on her own short film Some Boys Don’t Leave starring Jesse Eisenberg, and it’s not hard to imagine that it was far more effective in its miniature version.

The film relates the story of how the Boy, played by the good-looking if not particularly charismatic Chris Lowell, fell desperately in love with Charlotte (Rose McIver), his classmate in an introductory astronomy college course. When first seen, he’s already been dumped by her due to his lack of ambition, finding himself waking up from a drunken stupor in their apartment, which she has already rented out to another couple.  

In a desperate attempt to win her back, he takes a corporate marketing job at a company owned by the father of Charlotte’s friend, aspiring songstress Lita (Jessica Szohr), with whom he quickly enters into a rebound relationship. As it happens, Charlotte works there as well, and it isn’t long before he’s two-timing his new girlfriend with his old one, with predictably disastrous results.

His career goals are as muddled as his romantic ones. Even though he’s successful in his well-paying new job, aided in no small part by the support of Lita’s father (Clark Gregg), he inexplicably has his sights set on a career in astronomy despite the fact that he has no scientific background whatsoever. So he impulsively takes a job as a custodian in an observatory, where he’s given some sage advice about life from its no-nonsense head astronomer (Allison Janney, delivering her usual solid work in an all-too-brief cameo).

The screenplay, co-written by Kiley and Matthew Mullen, is both confusing in its chronology and woefully lacking in depth, with the characters defined in strictly broad strokes and the Boy’s proving unsympathetic in his selfishness and lack of self-identity. While it definitely has echoes of The Graduate — “It isn’t about plastic, is it?” the Boy asks his new boss about the company — Brightest Star never matches that film’s ability to make us care about its central character’s existential plight.


Production: Storyboard Entertainment

Cast: Chris Lowell, Rose McIver, Jessica Szohr, Clark Gregg, Allison Janney

Director: Maggie Kiley

Screenwriters: Matthew Mullen, Maggie Kiley

Producers: Jason Potash, Paul Finkel, Kyle Heller, Gina Resnick

Executive producers: Jerome Finkel, Joseph Naoum, Pasquale Iaderosa, Ruth Rydstedt, Rob Heller, Andrew Fierberg

Director of photography: Chayse Irvin

Production designer: Matt Hyland

Costume designer: Anney Perrine

Editors: Cindy Thoennessen, Franklin Peterson

Music: Matthew Puckett

No rating, 80 minutes