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North Starr

A messy Texas stew of racial tension, personal liberation and murder-in-retrospect detective story.

A messy Texas stew of racial tension, personal liberation and murder-in-retrospect detective story, “North Starr” gets off to a clunky start, grows on the viewer through its leisurely midsection, then bogs down in an over-edited jumble of flashbacks, hallucinations and labored symbolism. Likably taciturn characters, piquant Southern flavor and attention-grabbing white-on-black hostilities sustain interest over the long haul, but self-indulgent poetic interludes will limit scribe-director Matthew Stanton’s first feature to the fest circuit.

After his friend’s brutal murder, aspiring rapper Demetrious (Jerome Hawkins) flees Houston and winds up in a backwards burg, where he’s befriended by Darring (Stanton), the only other black man in sight, and Wayne (Wayne Campbell, playing the Caucasian comic relief). The other white townsfolk don’t take too kindly to the new guy, whose long (very long) journey toward self-renewal is mysteriously linked with the town’s shady history. Pic boasts one exhilarating scene in which the D-Man shows the fools what he’s made of, but the rough tech package makes for a poor aesthetic fit with the story’s mystical pretensions. Strongest tech contribution is the soundtrack, which fittingly incorporates rap and country.

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North Starr

  • Production: A Fat Bessy Films presentation, in association with Cinelever. Produced by Matthew Stanton, Dr. Paula Windham, Peter Levermann. Executive producer, Jennifer Balconis. Co-producers, Wayne Campbell, Mark Maccora. Co-executive producer, Billie H. Steffee. Directed, written by Matthew Stanton.
  • Crew: Camera (color/B&W, HD), Peter Levermann; editor, Levermann; music, Carlos Jones; production designers, Gregg Ellory, Wayne Campbell. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 21, 2008. Running time: 120 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Jerome Hawkins, Matthew Stanton, Chris Sullivan, Isaac Lamb, Zach Johnson, Wayne Campbell.
  • Music By: