As the oldest film school in the U.S. — and the alma mater of filmmakers as accomplished and diverse as George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, Ryan Coogler and Rian Johnson — USC Cinematic Arts established a reputation for skilled craftsmanship, rich community and compelling storytelling. This week we spotlight their newest generation of filmmakers, working in a wide range of genres and styles.
Lita is from a broken family, one that splintered apart after her mother died. Unable to deal with their grief, the family grew apart.
In the 10 years since her mom’s death, Lita has grown into a headstrong young woman. But she has never forgotten the promise she made to her mother to bring the family together, no matter what, to watch the orbit of the Eros Comet. When the comet’s time has come, Lita decides to fulfill her mother’s promise and bring everyone together — even if she has to resort to kidnapping.
Writer-director Jon Sahagian’s sci-fi family drama has a mischievous spirit, an ultra-cute robot and a sense of infectious fun that harkens back to Steven Spielberg’s films of the 1980s. The storytelling is always moving, there’s often a whimsical touch in each scene and each beat leads to an emotional core of family, togetherness and love.
There’s a heightened quality to many aspects of the filmmaking, from the quippy writing to the action set pieces nestled into the plotline, ranging from car chases to breakouts. These make the film undeniably fun, giving it an effervescence that’s contagious.
Yet the central storyline is really about what it means to be a family. Lita has a fixed idea of what being a family looks like and wants to fulfill that above everything. She has the will and the means to make what she wants to happen, yet when it does, it doesn’t fulfill the underlying feelings of grief and sadness it’s meant to assuage. Instead, she has to accept not just the reality of her mother’s absence, but where each member of her family is at emotionally. Once she’s able to accept the reality of her family, though, her family can finally come together.
Sweet, sharp and undeniably entertaining, “The Star of Eros” possesses an almost childlike joy in its revelry of craft and a heartwarming sweetness at its core that gives the film its warmth and resonance. Its craft and storytelling is excellent all around, but it’s really its sincerity of feeling — and its great big heart — that makes the film such a resonant pleasure to watch, and a reminder of what’s truly important in life.