What stops David Cronenberg’s grotesque noir Maps to the Stars, written by LA insider Bruce Wagner, from feeling tired is that it’s deliciously odd.
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Julianne Moore seems to be the one person in the film that truly gets the tone right, playing Havana like a person walking a tightrope over a yawning pit of psychosis, her every emotion bubbling up and threatening to knock her off.
While not the director's canniest piece of filmmaking, it's unquestionably his angriest, politically motivated achievement. Every missive hits its target hard with a comedy-horror combo aimed squarely at the kind of commercial stupidity that Cronenberg has avoided throughout his 45-year career.
A brutal, crackling and savage Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars knows exactly where it's going, carefully breaking every rule in the book. After carefully constructing his crystal kingdom, Cronenberg launches his stones with dark, mischievous joy.
Cronenberg’s map doesn’t lead to a satisfying destination in a typical story sense, but it is a remarkable quest. For a movie that has so many problems, it is one of the more watchable ones.
The film is a sickly enjoyable wallow in the scandalous, fucked-up side of showbusiness, and a real return to form for the filmmaker.
The status-anxiety, fame-vertigo, sexual satiety and that all-encompassing fear of failure which poisons every triumph are displayed here with an icy new connoisseurship, a kind of extremism which faces down the traditional objection that films like this are secretly infatuated with their subject.
Maps struggles to mix its various genres: Part showbiz sendup, part ghost story, part dysfunctional-family drama, the movie instead comes across as so much jaded mumbo-jumbo.
There’s so much in this seething cauldron of a film, so many film-industry neuroses exposed and horrors nested within horrors, that one viewing is too much, and not nearly enough. Cronenberg has made a film that you want to unsee – and then see and unsee again.
Cronenberg assumes a distinctly clinical approach to the emotional, social and business shenanigans on display here, a perspective that has brilliantly served some of his overtly psychological, horror and sci-fi pieces but gives this one a brittle and airless feel.