In the Shadow of the Stars

"Weak"

In the Shadow of the Stars Review


Here's proof that, at least in the documentary categories, it doesn't take much to win an Oscar. In the Shadow of the Stars is a movie about opera. Not just opera, mind you, but the people in the chorus -- essentially the backup singers who appear on stage and in costume, but whose names are buried in the back of the Playbill.

Ladies and gentlemen: These are their stories.

As the film opens, we are told that these folks aren't actually in the shadow at all -- they're stars, they're all stars doggonnit! Well then what are we about to see here? Primarily chorus members complain about everything, from costumes to unfair treatment as children to failed marriages. One singer spends 10 minutes taking us on a personal journey of her failed attempt to go to Europe to perform, thanks to the goading of her cruel husband. Who are these people, and why should we care?

The intentions are good: Every field has also-rans (including writing) who get passed over unfairly and who never make names for themselves even though they are extremely talented. Sure enough, all of the singers profiled in this movie sound really good when they perform. But, at the risk of sounding callous... so?

Filmmakers Allie Light and Irving Saraf use the age-old talking head format intercut with performance footage, and the film ping-pongs between these two formats for its full running time. A thrill ride it isn't. If you don't have a strong interest in the performing arts you'll be bored silly after five minutes.

Unfortunately, the big problem here isn't the format or even the subject matter. It's that aside from a few interesting characters (one man is the son of a truck driver who ended up in the opera), the stories we hear are surprisingly similar and shockingly negative and full of anger. Everyone's got a sob story of unfair treatment about why they didn't Make It To The Top and, in some cases, unbridled vitriol directed at no one in particular aside from The Man who's keeping them down. The net result is that the film, by and large, comes off as a 90-minute bitch session about everything opera-related... which ironically the participants all claim to love more than anything else somewhere in their tired monologues.

Give it a rest, people.

Suckers for punishment can get more footage on the DVD.



In the Shadow of the Stars

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 17th October 1991

Distributed by: Docurama

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Allie Light, Irving Saraf

Producer: Allie Light, Irving Saraf

Contactmusic


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