Star Leaf full movie review - Star Leaf: Follow the rules... or be punished
When first introduced to the title I immediately thought of Cheech and Chong's Next Movie. Space weed and "trippin'" is what I had a feeling this movie was going to be about, and while that was part of it, it certainly wasn't anything like Cheech and Chong.
Star Leaf tells the story of 3 friends on a road "trip" to find a special strain of extra terrestrial marijuana, the Star Leaf. This drug, they hope, will help their friend cope with the effects of PTSD. Unfortunately for the group, there are rules to be followed when partaking of this cure and needless to say, some one always breaks the rules.
The story actually has multiple morals intertwined into decisions we may all face day-to-day one way or the other.
Primarily, if you use marijuana or not, it is difficult not to sympathize with a set of friends trying to help their buddy suffering from PTSD. The tolls of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq have left us with soldiers much like our veteran in this movie. Our veteran struggles with the idea of using a possible illicit substance, being an upstanding person, however, he is probably in the greatest need of the relief the Star Leaf will bring to his affliction.
Beyond the overt medicinal and or recreational uses of marijuana the story reminds us "There are rules". With great relief and or "high" comes great responsibility. And if you break the rules, there will be consequences. This is much like our politicians like to remind us, that if marijuana is legal, there are still regulations around it.
The consequences for breaking the rules are exactly when things go to hell in a hand-basket for our friends. While it is not quite a "horror" element, it definitely gets the point across. I would categorize this movie more as a Sci-Fi Drug Thriller.
Richard Cranor, who directed and wrote this film, filmed most of it right in the forests of Olympia Washington near where he resides. Ironically, Richard plays "Ranger Dave" a kind of law enforcement man watching over the "rules". Yet another not so subtle reminder, you can partake, but the law is watching.
What made this movie compelling for me was Richard Cranor's personal story. He has a brother who struggled with PTSD and Richard himself was stricken with cancer. Knowing this going into watching the film made me appreciate the personal connection he made with this movie.
I don't want to add too many spoilers, but I will write: Star Leaf is a movie with a message that resonates in my opinion. As indie movies go, I really enjoyed it. You do not have to be high or on something to get enjoyment out of the story, although I am sure the story might seem different if you were. I particularly like movies when things go to hell due to the characters bringing it down on themselves, and this movie delivers.
One can never go into watching a micro-budget movie expecting a full-fledged Hollywood flick. There is not unlimited cash to make everything picture perfect, so be forgiving. Take the story for what it's worth and enjoy the filmmaker's vision. I look forward to more of Richard Cranor's work as I think he has lots of story to tell.