Maps to the Stars
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson Evan Bird, Olivia Williams,
When director David Cronenberg is good, he is really good, but when he is bad, it’s difficult to sit through his films. A History of Violence will always be his modern masterpiece in my mind, and often his best work has been with Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method). Mortensen dropped out of this film and was replaced by Cusack, but the script is miles off what seems to be intended social commentary on the worst stereotypes of Hollywood. Sure there are people very similar to what Bird and Moore are portraying in the film, but Maps to the Stars exaggerates tabloid inspired headlines as their actions and circumstances become fodder, trailing off to some quasi horror movie script that isn’t interesting nor profound.
13-year-old Benjie Weiss (Bird) is the million dollar leading star of the internationally successful Babysitter film. His behavior is that of a spoiled, unappreciative and quick rising star who has been raised to think his work and talent are the center of the universe. On the flip side, washed up actress Havana Segrand (Moore), daughter deceased acting starlet Clarice Taggart (Sarah Gadon), can’t find a way to get back in the game. Havana is addicted to prescription drugs, attends therapy and is desperate to appear in a new art film playing a role made famous by her mother. Benjie has nightmare visons of a dying girl he made false promises to, while Havana is haunted by her mother. Both are connected by Agatha (Wasikowska), forbidden to see her little brother Benjie, but despite her mental state and burn recovery lands a job as Havana’s personal assistant thanks to her Carrie Fisher connections.
Cronenberg fails to provide comedic, insightful, or even entertaining social commentary on the Hollywood culture.
“Hell is a world without narcotics,” one character says. It’s one more honest stereotype of “celebrities” who find fame so difficult to manage. Oscar winner Julianne Moore (Still Alice) actually won the best actress award at Cannes last year for her performance as Havana. However, we have seen Moore in this delusional, drug addicted, rattled type of psychotic performance before, most notably in her Paul Thomas Anderson work. It’s nothing new for the acclaimed red head; in fact none of the cast reaches beyond previous accomplishments. Odd for a Cronenberg film, since he is a director known for bringing out the best in his actors.
It’s fairly obvious that Bird’s spoiled brat Weiss is a mock-up of Justin Bieber and Moore’s portrayal of Havana could easily be Gwyneth Paltrow or a variety of stars desperate to regain the star power they once possessed. Regardless, Cronenberg fails to provide comedic, insightful, or even entertaining social commentary on the Hollywood culture we think we all know. Besides Moore’s flatulence in a rare female toilet scene (is this supposed to be like those article in US Weekly – “they are just like us”), the film goes off the rails towards the end showcasing nothing we didn’t already know or assume.
Map to nowhere