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Mr. Taylor Swift and Margaret Qualley Have Lots of Sex in ‘The Stars at Noon.’ If Only They Had Any Chemistry.

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Even the best film directors need good actors. Claire Denis has worked with an informal troupe of actors who recur in her films throughout her career, like Gregoire Colin and Alex Descas, and has also had more starry lead actors this century, from Vincent Lindon in Bastards and Isabelle Huppert in White Material to Juliette Binoche in Let the Sunshine In. These are performers who have the mettle and experience to anchor a film, and the acting smarts to work with Denis’s tricksy dialogue and elliptical filmmaking. Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn lead The Stars at Noon as two lovers caught up in political intrigue in Nicaragua, and it is unfortunately a glaring flaw here that they are unable to carry the film. Both are miscast, both lack chemistry, and neither of them has a very fun time with the dialogue. It seems from early reactions in Cannes that Joe Alwyn’s reading of the line, “suck me” is destined to become legendary, but I would suggest that Qualley’s take on the line, “I’m fond of eggs” should be the real cult quip here.

Qualley plays Trish Johnson, a young journalist who has become stuck in a politically feverish Nicaragua for one reason or another and finds herself unable to make money to fly back; her passport has also been confiscated. Here, she resorts to sex work to get by, and has become terribly jaded already by the time we meet her. It befalls her one day that she bumps into Daniel (Alwyn), a shady young Englishman on some sort of mission to the country who appears to be an operative of........

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