To the Stars review – a charmingly old-fashioned tale of teen entanglements | Film

It’s the beginning of the 1960s in small-town Oklahoma: dress silhouettes oscillate between the flare of the 50s new look and hipper pencil-skirt sleekness, gossip runs rife and minds are, with a few noble exceptions, pretty small. Iris (Kara Hayward, the girl from Moonrise Kingdom, all grown up), a shy, speccy, secretly smart high-school senior with a humiliating bladder-control problem, lives with her alcoholic mom (Jordana Spiro) and taciturn dad (Shea Whigham).

One day during the long walk to school, Iris is saved from the local jocks’ daily dose of bullying by newcomer Maggie (Liana Liberato). With her sensuous physicality and imaginative mind, Maggie bamboozles the local popular girls with a semi-credible line of BS about her father being a magazine photojournalist in town for a story about rural poverty, when really the family moved there to escape some vague scandal created by Maggie getting caught losing her virginity to a boy.

Her knack for getting busted is reprised later. In the meantime, she befriends Iris and slowly coaxes the withdrawn girl out of her shell: persuading her to ditch her glasses, thus revealing a natural beauty that had somehow gone unnoticed by the whole town. Yes, the script by Shannon Bradley-Colleary really is that old-fashioned – which is, perversely, the charm here, right down to the simmering lesbian-desire subplot that you can sense coming from miles away, like a tornado on the horizon. All the same, the period trappings – which must have cost a bomb – are lush and smartly deployed without being heavy-handed, and the two young leads are very watchable.

Source: The Guardian

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