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Film Review:

Five Star Day, directed by Danny Buday, starring Cam Gigandet, Jena Malone, Brooklyn Sudano, Max Hartman, from Breaking Glass Pictures, theatrical release Nov. 2011, DVD release Feb. 2012.

By John Townley, with Susan Townley

Although one of AstroCocktail’s specialties is examining how the modern world views astrology (see our news page), we don’t generally review astrology-related films – though there have been a spate of them in both the East and the West lately – because the astrology in them is either too peripheral or treated with a level of ignorance that truly merits ignoring. But 2011’a Five Star Day is refreshingly another matter, and now that it’s coming out in DVD release, it’s worth a closer look.

The premise is simple: protagonist Jake Gibson (Cam Gigandet, Christina Aguilera’s love interest in Burlesque) reads his newspaper Sun-sign horoscope which tells him he’s going to have a wonderful birthday – love, money, career outlooks all superb – and then proceeds to have the most disastrous day of his young life on all three fronts. Confusing destiny and predetermination, and infuriated that he has been somehow deceived by the ancient art itself, he sets out to debunk astrology utilizing a project for his college ethics class. His method: to find several other people born at exactly the same time and place as he (February 6, 1982, at 10:32 PM in Chicago), who presumably would have had totally different birthday experiences than he, thus somehow disproving astrology. Not exactly an airtight experiment, but perhaps enough speculative fodder for an ethics class.

But his presumptions are soon dashed asunder, for as he travels cross-country to meet three others whose identical birthdays he wants to hear about, he discovers that two also had life-alteringly dreadful days, and later finds the third’s was even worse.  He is treated to it in-depth with his first contact and subsequent love interest Sarah (Jena Malone, of Pride and Prejudice, Sucker Punch, lots more), and the rest follow suit.  It’s an unexpected conundrum. Does this mean astrology is for real? Is there no free will in this world? Well, of course there is, as he discovers from getting creatively entangled with the troubled lives of all three. With a little help from Jake, everyone manages to make lemonade out of their birthday lemons, with engagingly suitable episodes of drama, love, and comedy along the way. Ill begun may be half-done, but the other half is up to you, as they all discover, ultimately earning Jake a good grade (we hope) in his ethics report.

Although the premise is logically shaky – it mixes Sun-sign newspaper entertainment with legitimate natal astrology – that doesn’t really matter, as director Danny Buday has explained in an excellent interview with astrologer Chris Brennan. What does matter is that the story recognizes what legitimate astrology is and then proceeds to explore the destiny vs. free will issues that it can engender, concluding along with most modern astrologers that it’s just another set of influences for the soul to navigate in life. What Jake learns in his travels is that although all four characters born at the same place and time may share a beginning and even subsequent similarly-timed challenges, they are all separate souls, travelling their own sometimes-intersecting paths. They may have stepped in through the same door at the same time, and thus be pointed in similar directions, they themselves are not that door, despite being beholden to it and to each other.

What writer/director Buday has put forth is not dissimilar to many novels or films about protagonists who feel locked in by their religion, race, or other birthrights and struggle to escape or transcend them, while integrating them as well. The fact is, we all are delineated by our sets of initial conditions, but we needn’t be unnecessarily imprisoned by them, as once we thoroughly take stock of where we come from and where we are, where we go and who we become is significantly up to us, both individually and jointly.

The lesson of this enjoyably entertaining film is simple: as hero Jake begins to get beyond feeling sorry for himself (and angry at astrology) and becomes more selflessly involved with his birthmates, he discovers that although they are all of a piece to begin with, what that piece turns out to be in the end is determined by what they are willing to do with it, and with each other. Your horoscope gives you a particular view of where you began, and its potential, and from that point on the ball is in your court. What may happen is predetermined by all sorts of initial conditions, but what does happen is what your destiny is all about…

Chart of Jake Gibson, and three others...

    The natal horoscope used for the characters in this film is not the director’s, but it is linked to the day and time (though not the year) he began writing the script. But as with many fictional horoscopes, writers tend to uncannily pick appropriate times whose charts well describe the character or event they are writing about. 

    Here, we have a shifting and somewhat dire Libra stellium of Mars, Saturn, and Pluto rising, depicting a situation of blocked and destructive energies trying to force the situation, in a T-cross with Venus and the MC, so no one is getting what they want and they’re getting a bad rep at it on top of it. Following that is another T-cross of Jupiter (next to rise) and Moon opposition Mercury, a vying for more positive events trying to tie together intellect and emotions. 

    Fortunately, the first finds creative resolution from Sun trine Mars, and the second from Uranus trine Moon and sextile Mercury. The initially angular problems find ultimate solution from supporting players, and the focus of the entire situation, with its lunar bucket handle, is about getting emotionally involved and letting feelings run the show instead of intellectual assumptions and analysis one the one hand or simple bad fortune on the other. It would certainly seem to be a suggestively good enough overview of the dynamics involved in the story…

    An experimental site…

    Having studied enough about astrology to not only write a good film about it, but also to want to find out more, director Buday has created an experimental website where you can sign on with your birth data to perhaps find others with the same and share their experience or just generally learn more about the situation by seeing what evolves from a social networking exploration of the subject. Check it out at:

AstroCocktail readers

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  Copyright © John Townley 2012. All rights reserved.
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