Logline: An extraterrestrial being takes the form of a young widow’s husband and the pair must travel across the country together.
Though John Carpenter is most associated with horror films, the filmmaker has explored various genres. Carpenter’s 1984 film Starman is one of his most unusual in terms of its romantic narrative and lack of stylistic flair. In other words, Starman feels like one of the most commercial films John Carpenter made, especially during his prime (late 1970s/80s). Starman is a solid, if unremarkable, romance disguised as a science fiction film.
John Carpenter is one of the most misunderstood filmmakers of the 20th century. He was typecast as a horror director after the success of Halloween (1978) and many of his best films were not well-received at the time of their release. The truth is that Carpenter had an incredible range, which is clearly evident in Starman. The film does not have the usual stylistic tendencies of a Carpenter flick. Rather, he focuses on the tender love story at the heart of the film. There is also some great comedy. The film stars Jeff Bridges, who delivers a stellar performance as an alien who takes the form of a human being. Karen Allen is very good as Jenny Hardin, the young widow who shows him how to love.
Starman has a lot going for it but I cannot say I love the film. It all comes down to preference. I am not too keen on love stories and Starman is exactly that: a love story between an extraterrestrial being and a woman. If anything, it is worth watching Jeff Bridges play an alien who slowly learns what it means to be human.
Rating (out of ****): ***