Maps to the Stars
Directed by David Cronenberg
Starring Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, Evan Bird, Olivia Williams
Review by Jordan
Anyone who ventures into the mind of David Cronenberg better do so wearing a scarf and draped in sheepskin, because it is one cold place in there and you may just need the comfort of some fluffy fleece to see your safe return. Maps to the Stars, the latest cinematic venture from this master of translating the human condition into works of horrific heaviness, certainly shows that he has well and truly abandoned his body horror roots in favor of dissecting and portraying a dark side of humankind, whilst not forgetting to introduce dollops of black humor and irony where needed.
Unfortunately though, while it is clear to see the Canadian auteur’s vision here, the execution and indeed very premise borders on the regrettably insubstantial, leaving his devoted audience dating back to the feverish Shivers to ponder his next Robert Pattinson era project and, in a sign that at least one thing was accomplished, perhaps skip Julianne Moore’s next few films after baring witness to her horrible (though well acted) character here.
Maps to the Stars follows a family plus other assorted characters living shallow existences in Hollywood; losing a war with their damaged psyches and spoiled ideals and proving dangerous to themselves and others. Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska), a young burns victim hitching a ride into Tinseltown in a rented limousine appears to hold the clues that tie everyone and their shameful secrets together, but with a plot that amounts to not much of anything and an overarching tone of solitude and shamefulness, before long we wish that we could just jump in said limousine ourselves and hightail it out of there, perhaps stopping in at Mulholland Drive for a more substantial serving of Hollywood paranoia instead.
As mentioned however, where Cronenberg does succeed in creating relevance here is in the occasional humor, as forced as it may sometimes seem. Havana Segrand’s (Moore) reaction to the drowning death of an actresses young son, subsequently landing her the comeback role she was so desperately craving will either have you quietly laughing or reaching for the remote, and almost every line Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusak) delivers is biting, and probably all too common in his media-driven industry.
Though never boring, this is a film that currently has no purpose or place in the movie landscape. I’m unsure if it’s trying to blur the lines between fact and fiction, parody celebrity culture or hold a mirror up to it, but I am sure that Cronenberg has done a lot better with a lot less talent at his disposal.
I wondered how this one would be. Cronenberg is hit or miss for me anymore. I recently bought the Criterion Collection version of ‘Scanners’ and was reminded how much I really liked David Cronenberg. Hopefully he’ll get back to making viscerally stunning films again.
I’m not sure we’ll see that side of him again to be honest, but thats OK, he left such an imprint on the horror/science fiction genres that it only makes sense to explore something different. This one did receive quite a bit of love, just not from me unfortunately.
I wanted very dearly to understand this film.
Haha, I’m not sure there’s that much to it to be honest! Just a window into the lives of the rich and famous, Cronenberg style.
It’s not necessarily saying anything new, or ground-breaking about Hollywood and the way it works, but it’s still so very funny. More so than any other Cronenberg movie that comes to mind. Nice review Jordan.
Ha I’ll agree that its his funniest film, but that’s only ‘cos he’s very rarely explored humor in the past. I am just glad he’s still active behind the camera though and will always watch whatever it is he decides to make.
Great film 😀
I agree, It was a really good film to be immersed in and I enjoyed it immensely. Nice to have a touch of class in last years line up
Seeing as I haven’t seen this yet, and really want to, I could only read your rating. I’m a bit surprised by it. Guess I was expecting something else.
Well I hope you get more out of it than me; I know others have. It is what it is, but I was just wanting a bit more substance.
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I actually saw Agatha as Clarice Taggart’s reincarnation, Havana’s demon made flesh. That might be an eccentric reading but there are just too many little hints not to see it that way.
It also explains Agatha’s motivation for murdering Havana. She might have just lost her cool because of the verbal abuse. It might have been a way of committing herself to the suicide pact with her little brother.
But ultimately I think that Agatha was simply channeling Clarice Taggart. Agatha the incest baby was possessed by the spirit of a woman who wanted to snuff out her own daughter from the grave.
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