The Starling Girl
Director: Laurel Parmet Run Time: 116 min. Release Year: 2023
Starring: Claire Elizabeth Green, Eliza Scanlen, Jimmi Simpson, Lewis Pullman, Wrenn Schmidt
Seventeen-year-old Jem Starling struggles to define her place within her fundamentalist Christian community in rural Kentucky. Even her greatest joy of dancing with the church group is tempered by worry that her actions are sinful and she is caught between a burgeoning awareness of her own sexuality and her religious devotion. With the return of Owen, an enigmatic youth pastor, Jem soon finds herself attracted to his worldliness and charm. Slowly, he draws her into a dangerous relationship that could upend their entire community.
Laurel Parmet’s enthusiasm for film is infectious. “I’ve always wanted to make films. I love the collaboration filmmaking requires. I love taking an audience on a journey and connecting to people that way,” she says. Parmet grew up on film sets — her father is a cinematographer and her mother works in costumes — and her passion for filmmaking led her to the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, where The Starling Girl premiered in the U.S. Dramatic category. “I think it’s the most fun job in the world. When I’m making films with my friends and with people I love, it’s such a rush, there’s nothing else like it.” ~ Sundance Institute.
“The language and strictures of their religious community are perfectly rendered by writer and director Laurel Parmet, who captures the complicated interplay of power and immaturity that can blossom in isolated communities.” ~ Alissa Wilkinson, Vox