Glitter ★★½

Does Mariah Carey spend half the film in the background watching characters talk because Vondie Curtis-Hall found her incapable of handling the heavier emotional beats, or is this lack of agency a conscious representation of a naive singer navigating the major label labyrinth? Why is everyone in 1983 dressed like they're from the late 90s? Why does the music sound like its from the late 90s? These questions are not (just!) critiques. Glitter is for sure an unmitigated catastrophe, the sweaty editing, Carey's uneven performance, and the saccharine romance plot the least of its concerns. Yet, seen at a bit of a remove, it also plays like a fascinating autopsy of the pop singer vanity project. The hubris of its star and its craven producers have bled into every part of the text. Of course, none of that is by design, and the movie's not unintentionally amusing enough to warrant cult status, but it's got an afterlife unlike any other. Carey's not terrible, either! When the movie gives her the space, she's downright plucky and charming.

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