Stars at Noon

THRILLER; 2hr 17min (English and Spanish with subtitles)

STARRING: Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn

Hairy: Alwyn and Qualley

Leaning heavily on torpid heat, director Claire Denis drops wily American journalist Trish (Qualley) into contemporary Nicaragua with the only chance of clawing her way out a dishy and possibly dodgy Brit (Alwyn as Daniel) she picks up in a bar.


Trish and Daniel are easy on the eyes, which is a plus since they enjoy a fair bit of gracefully orchestrated sex while the schmoozy screenplay — adapted by Denis with Léa Mysius and Andrew Litvak from Denis Johnson’s 1986 novel, The Stars at Noon — drapes itself over the tasty visuals like a somnolent lizard. Settle into the slow-going and the sultry scenery is another minor seduction, although the serrated observations that juiced Denis’s Both Sides of the Blade are conspicuously missing in inaction: Trish’s primary raison d’être is plotting her escape between drinks, and Daniel is even more of a dark and authority-averse horse. But while it’s a stretch to care about characters this undercooked, even with the stakes teetering towards sky high, you might want to pay attention when the walls start closing in.