The indie drama “Broken Star” features Analeigh Tipton as Markey Marlowe, a scandal-plagued actress hiding out from the press in a low-rent duplex owned by a loner named Daryl (Tyler Labine), who’s obsessed with her. Over the course of several days, Markey and Daryl take turns manipulating each other, in ways so densely intertwined that it’s hard to know who has the upper hand.
Early on, “Broken Star” seems more like an acting workshop than an exercise in psychological suspense. Tipton digs into the character of a spoiled celebrity, reacting to her latest PR nightmare with a combination of bratty indignation and a recommitment to her craft. Markey tries on wigs, improvises monologues, and spills her guts about her friends and family to Daryl.
The landlord, meanwhile, is so gripped by Markey’s behind-the-scenes gossip that she gradually persuades him to help her get even with her haters.
Though it’s slackly paced, “Broken Star” holds some fascination early on as an elliptical character study. But when the plot finally kicks in, it feels like an afterthought — as though director Dave Schwep and screenwriter David Lee Brant realized too late that they needed something more than two damaged folks in a tacky old house.
The situation and the performances are strong, but without a good story to hold everything together, it all falls apart in the end.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Starts July 20, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica