For all the Hollywood obsession with high-concept and special effects, sometimes there’s something enchanting about a simple story simply told, and a movie of small rather than grand gestures. Case in point: the pleasant and enchanting Brightest Star, a narratively slight but well acted and keenly observed romantic dramedy about a twentysomething guy’s romantic fumblings and occupational uncertainty. The feature film debut of Maggie Kiley, Brightest Star isn’t a movie of conventionally structured catharsis.’
Kiley comes by these character studies earnestly, one of her most distinctive and endearing qualities as a filmmaker being the sincerity with which she explores the often flawed people at the center of her stories.
‘Maggie Kiley, the writer-director of Dial a Prayer, is a sly puss. Her film begins as a seemingly snarky satire of all those God-for-a-dollar movements, with Cora the most virulent atheist there ever could be. But gradually, its deeper meaning sets in—i.e., the need of everyone for some kind of deep solace in their crazy lives, with bad-ass, former hard-partying girl Cora the most in need of all. The film becomes a rather touching portrait of a young woman’s human growth, laced with a salutary number of small yet piquant observations along the way.