You probably shouldn't know ahead of time that Starlet is about a porn star. Writer-director Sean Baker keeps the information concealed throughout most of the film, spending the majority of it focusing on the unlikely but sweet friendship between an elderly woman (Basedka Johnson) and a 21-year-old free spirit named Jane (Dree Hemingway).
The big "she does porn" reveal is key, though, since it finally shows that Jane and her friend/roommate Melissa (Stella Maeve) actually do something with their lives, even if it's having sex on camera. At home, with Melissa's sleazy boyfriend (James Ransone), the girls display all the spunk and motivation of Macy's mannequins. They're either high as kites or exchanging dialogue in that typically heavy-handed introspective way so regularly seen in indie dramas.
But knowing that they're adult film actresses helps to put their drone-like demeanors into perspective: You'd be lethargic 24/7, too, if you spent working hours riding people in the sack.