The shifting (and alternate) timelines that are one of several elements that make the 2016 dramedy "When the Starlight Ends" entertainingly odd also makes this facially tardy review of the Cinedigm March 2018 DVD release of the film timely. Writer-director Adam Sigal channels the best of indie fantasy films in telling the story of heavily fantasizing office drone Jacob (Sam Heughan of "Outlander") turned published author, turned angst-ridden basket case.
The quirkiness of "Starlight" commences with the opening narration by Jacob that runs throughout the film. He tells us that love of his life Carli left him one month and 14 days ago after meeting him an equally specific period ago. The circumstances of their meeting also help set the tone for "Starlight."
The well-intentioned catalyst for most of the action in "Starlight" is Carli convincing Jacob to trade in his cubicle for an attempt at writing something that at least approaches the level of the great American novel. This leads to the moderate success that leads to the heavy drama that leads to the aforementioned departure of Carli.
In this case, the journey is far more than half the fun as we see the manifestations of the daydreams that often feature putting Jacob and Carli in the shoes of the folks with whom Jacob interacts in real life. Much of this entertainment relates to not knowing if it is live or Memorex.
A prime example of this altered reality is Jacob writing in a diner when the current "It" girl strolls in. The scenarios that play out include an increasingly intimate chat and our hero taking a bullet for her.
The wacky neighbors provide additional fodder for the imagination of Jacob and related entertainment for us. Clueless Ralph (Sean Patrick Flanery) suspects that his wife is cheating on him and adds stupidity to ignorance by hiring the culprit to spy on her.
Jacob also bonds with his aging beach bum neighbor who has a different dog each week. The circumstances surrounding one theory regarding this regular swapping of pets is darkly hilarious.
Sigal extends the concept of the film to the "one who got away" post break-up period, We get a full sense both of what might have been and of the degree to which Jacob desires to control the lives of those around him.
The first bigger picture this time is pulling back the curtain on the desire of all of us to control our relationships with others and have them lives their lives as we see fit. The second big picture is the conflict than can exist between pursuing our dreams and hurting the ones whom we love. We further see that writers awesomely can at least have their cake and eat it too.
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