Iggy Pop stars as a guardian angel in the Felliniesque French art film “L’étoile du jour”

By on January 23, 2019

Iggy Pop stars as a guardian angel watching over a troupe of troubled circus performers in first-time director Sophie Blondy’s Felliniesque French indie art house film L’étoile du jour (Starlight).

Blondy’s French-language English-subtitled directorial debut — which first made the film festival rounds back in 2013 — is now available for streaming on Night Flight Plus.

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Wearing a long white coat when he isn’t shirtless — this is Iggy after all — Pop’s guardian angel character silently observes the secrets and jealousies of the small, financially-struggling Zanos Circus, a small traveling company who have pitched their tent along a North Sea shoreline among remote windswept exotic sand dunes.

These seaside circus performers are more like restless gypsies who are struggling not only with the lack of a paying audience to perform in front of (the forlorn location doesn’t apparently attract very many paying visitors), but they end up taking out their frustrations on each other in what amounts to potentially-dangerous love triangles in this circus-set soap opera.

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The story here — the screenplay is credited to Philippe Benkemoun and Blondy — mainly focuses on the blonde-tressed ballerina “Angèle” (Natacha Régnier) who is in love with a circus clown named “Elliot” (Denis Lavant).

The circus actually has several clowns, in fact, including “Flix” (Hervé Chenais), who has no lower arms.

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Pop’s angelic character — his character is credited simply as “La Conscience” — shows up in interstitial sequences as Elliot’s conscience appearing and disappearing throughout this somewhat bleak fantasy storyline (even appearing like an apparition in a puddle of water).

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Meanwhile, the schizophrenic ringmaster/singer/tarot card-reading fortune teller, replete with crystal ball, named “Zohra” (Béatrice Dalle) is also in love with Elliot, all while Angèle is also being courted by “Heroy” (Tchéky Karyo).

He’s a cruel alcoholic circus director hated by his employees, and he may or may not be a a former gangster with lots of cash stacked away, despite pretending to be as poor as his circus performers.

He’s also desperate for love and wants so badly to win over the ballerina for himself that he turns to the mysterious powers of the magician named “Zéphyr” (Bruno Putzulu).

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The official plot synopsis for Starlight — the original French title L’étoile du jour translates, roughly, to “Star of the Day” — even attempted to describe what’s going on with these characters:

“Each performer rehearses and performs new numbers, but this fragile balance will quickly shatter to unveil their real nature and their most obscure feelings. The circus will then become a place of romantic lust where each will use their powers to satisfy their desires.”

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Read more about Iggy Pop and (Starlight below.

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Starlight isn’t the first time Iggy Pop had appeared in a fictional film role, but it might be the first time he’s appeared on the film’s poster.

Among his fifty-seven IMDB acting credits — who knew?! — you’ll find that that Iggy Pop has appeared in smaller-sized roles in feature films like Toby Tobias’ Blood Orange (2016) and Terrence Malick’s Austin-set romantic drama Song To Song (2017), as well as an unrecognizable, prosthetics-wearing character named “Yelgrun” in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” TV series.

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Over the years, Pop has also made don’t-blink-you’ll-miss-it cameo appearances in Night Flight-friendly movies and TV shows like Alex Cox‘s 1986 Sid & Nancy (as “Prospective Guest”), voicing a “Monster From Another Dimension” in Rock & Rule (1983), Martin Scorsese‘s The Color of Money (“Skinny Player on Road”), John WatersCry-Baby and an episode of TV’s “Tales From the Crypt”(also 1990).

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Blondy — who started her film career as an actress, appearing in the 1986 film Paulette, la pauvre petite milliardaire — offers up an interesting blend of black & white and color, shot by her cinematographer Nathalie Durand, often tweaking the contrast and brightness in Starlight‘s color and monochromatic sequences.

Blondy has mostly worked as a documentary filmmaker, having also lensed L’accordéoniste (1990), Les enfants acteurs (1991), Des enfants de Paris (1992), Vivre et travailler (1996), and La cité éboueurs (1997).

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Blondy’s first feature film was Elle et lui au 14ème étage (2000), and her most recent feature is The Morning Star (a.k.a. Angel of the North), which we believe she originally finished in 2012.

L’étoile du jour (Starlight) first screened at film festivals like Tallinn – Black Nights Film Festival (Estonia, 2013), Montreal World Film Festival (Canada, 2013), Moscow – International Film Festival (Russia, 2013), Rendez-vous with New French Cinema in Rome (2013), and at Rotterdam International Film Festival (Netherlands, 2013).

Watch Starlight on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.