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Starman [1984]: A Sweet, Tender & Heartfelt Tale of Love & Sympathy

Crafted with heart & affection, John Carpenter's Starman is an arresting tale of star-crossed lovers that’s overflowing with emotions, sympathy & sentimentality and is wonderfully led by a mesmerising chemistry between Jeff Bridges & Karen Allen.

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A sweet, tender & heartwarming portrait of love & sympathy, Starman offers John Carpenter an avenue to try his hand at romance and though it comes pierced with elements of sci-fi, the film functions as a surprisingly warm & thoroughly human love story led by a wonderful chemistry between its two leads.

The story follows a young widow who’s grieving the recent loss of her husband. Her life soon spirals out of control when an alien, who’s visited Earth to establish first contact after intercepting the Voyager 2 space probe, crash-lands near her house, takes the form of her deceased husband, and asks her to help him while being hunted by the government.

Directed by John Carpenter, the film marks a new territory for him but his careful approach to the material in addition to his innate ability to build tension & suspense from almost nothingness makes it an engaging sit. And with more emphasis on the bond that develops between the two characters, the film turns out to be a silent meditation on love, loss, longing & companionship.

Treated more like a cross-country road trip than a conventional sci-fi, the film is a departure from what Carpenter is best known for but he shows that he can revel in any genre if given the creative freedom and it’s a fine addition to his directorial oeuvre. And this story is further uplifted by the smooth camerawork, relaxed editing, steady pace & an intimate score that surprisingly isn’t from Carpenter.

Coming to the performances, Starman is steered by a terrific showcase from Jeff Bridges who portrays the confusion, adaptation, growth & proactiveness of his alien character inside human skin in a deft & relatable manner and his wonderful chemistry with Karen Allen is the core ingredient that makes this film work. The scenes between the two gets more comforting as plot progresses and it’s handled with heartfelt compassion.

On an overall scale, Starman is yet another delightful entry in John Carpenter’s filmography and is crafted with heart & affection. An arresting tale of star-crossed lovers that’s overflowing with emotions, sympathy & sentimentality, the film makes for an excellent companion piece to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and is touching & mesmerising on more levels than one. Definitely recommended.

★★★½

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