on October 27, 2000 by Kevin Courrier
   In "Stardom," the Opening Night film of the Toronto International Film Festival, Denys Arcand tell us that becoming a famous supermodel is soul-destroying and corrupting. Quel surprise! Coming from a director of the caliber of Denys Arcand ("The Decline of the American Empire," "Love and Human Remains"), "Stardom" is a big disappointment. What Arcand has done, ironically, is made a movie that's more superficial than the industry he's depicting.

   Tina Menzhal (Jessica Pare) is a pretty girl from a small Canadian town who suddenly hits the big time as a supermodel. Before long, she is the toast of New York, Paris and Milan. That is, until she becomes the desire of certain unscrupulous men. "Stardom" is about the rise and fall of a simple girl whose sweet dreams are shattered by an industry that denies her an identity.

   There's something rather smug and knowing about "Stardom" because it never implicates us in our own fascination with the glamorous world of fashion. Arcand's ready-made judgments tend to keep us at a careful distance.

   It's also surprising that Arcand, who is often so particular about creating interesting and distinct characters in his movies, hasn't allowed Tina to have a personality. We never see what really attracts her to becoming the next Cindy Crawford. Arcand probably thinks it's clever to tell Tina's story only through the media coverage of her life, but that becomes a cute device that diminishes any possibility for depth.    Starring Jessica Pare, Dan Aykroyd, Frank Langella, Camille Rutherford and Robert Lepage. Directed by Denys Arcand. Written by Denys Arcand and J. Jacob Potashnik. Produced by Robert Lantos and Denise Robert. A Lions Gate release. Drama. English/French language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 102 min. Opens 10/27.

Tags: Starring Jessica Pare, Dan Aykroyd, Frank Langella, Camille Rutherford, Robert Lepage. Directed by Denys Arcand. Written by Denys Arcand and J. Jacob Potashnik, Produced by Robert Lantos, Denise Robert, Lions Gate, Drama

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