Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson.
Release Date: September 26th
David Cronenberg’s latest directorial release, Maps To The Stars, is a disturbing yet deeply enthralling 112 minutes of cinema. But then, if you are familiar with any of the Canadian filmmaker’s work, that comes as standard.
Cronenberg directed the 1983 filmThe Dead Zone, where a young schoolteacher (played by Christopher Walken) awakens from a coma to find that he has psychic powers, and his early films often dealt with anomalies of the human condition. Perhaps his best-known work is The Fly (1986), a remake of the 1958 original, starring Jeff Goldblum as a scientist physically altered by his own experiment into one of cinema’s truly disgusting creations.
Dealing with the Hollywood pursuit of fame and fortune at any cost, Maps To The Stars is equally fascinating, and the satiric drama also deals with the lesser themes of family and self-validation.
The film has been described as a ‘dark, comic look at Hollywood excess’, essentially an acerbic look at the dysfunction present in Hollywood. The spoilt child stars who go off the rails, the reliance on both legal and illegal pharmaceuticals, and the massive egos present in Tinseltown are all issues dealt with honestly, if perhaps in an exaggerated fashion, in the film.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May where the lead, the evergreen Julianne Moore, won the festival’s Best Actress award for her convincing performance as an ageing actress trying to maintain her Hollywood relevancy. Her character, Havana Sagrand, goes through much emotional and psychological turmoil in the film, all because she is haunted by her past.
Incredibly, the film is Cronenberg’s first movie he has filmed on U.S. soil, and was in development for roughly six years. John Cusack , who plays a celebrity TV psychologist, has said that when he saw the script he thought it was “the most savage destruction of Hollywood fame and secrets” he had seen, which goes some way to prove that the film was worth the developmental wait, at least in his eyes.
Robert Pattinson plays a struggling actor and writer working as a limo driver “to pay the bills” – his character (the only truly sane one) was based on the film’s screenplay writer Bruce Wagner. Periodic comic relief is provided by the spoilt teen sensation Benjie Weiss (played by Evan Bird) who is so arrogant and hateful it can be humorous at times. Finally, Mia Wasikowska moves on from playing the title roles in Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre to the more sinister role of Benjie’s misunderstood pyromaniac sister, on a mission to make amends for past wrongdoings. Having it been considered one of the year’s most anticipated films, it really delivers. Once you see past the incest and sporadic gore, of course
In a Nutshell:
A captivating film you will regret watching, but want to watch again.