Maps to the Stars
From the cold, calculating, and cynical brain of David Cronenberg comes an unexpected Hollywood satire. At first, it’s jarring to see Cronenberg staging a gleefully foul mouthed and filthy comedy amidst a group of drugged up, self-obsessed, La-La-land phonies. The script from Bruce Wagner is not particularly funny, but an attempt at mirthful satire through Cronenberg’s harsh lens creates an intriguing tone until the movie slides into the realm of perverse psychological character study and becomes far more comfortable and predictable.
The film revolves around a handful of L.A. denizens including Mia Waikowska as a burn victim with a shady past, Robert Pattinson as a mysterious limo driver, Evan Bird as a disgusting young star, John Cusack as a manipulative guru, and best of all Julianne Moore as a drugged up former starlet born to Hollywood royalty.
For a while, Cronenberg lingers on these empty vessels chasing fame and pissing on anyone in their way. Then secrets and backstories emerge, leading toward an inevitably grisly finale.
Though the movie initially seems like a departure for the director, plenty of perverse sexuality, battered psychology, hidden violence, and a ghostly specter pop up to fit his comfort zone. The trouble is that the movie never amounts to more than the sum of its interesting parts, and it concludes with one of the most embarrassing special effects in recent memory.
Cronenberg remains an intriguing filmmaker, and it’s admirable that he still makes movies this alienating. It’s just a shame that his single minded pursuit of the personal has completely removed the audience from his interests. (Phil Brown)
Tuesday, September 9th, 9:30pm, Roy Thompson Hall
Wednesday, September 10th, 2:30pm, VISA Screening Room (Elgin)