Maps To The Stars: Cronenberg Goes To Hollywood

Julianne moore
Since Julianne Moore won the best actress prize at Cannes, Maps to the stars has been in our radar as one of the most anticipated films of the year. The latest David Cronemberg opus has finally hit our screens and it doesn’t disappoint.

The Canadian auteur became a household name through his unique take on the body horror genre (Scanners, The Brood), and later cemented his reputation with a series of more widely acclaimed, but no less poignant, dramas such as A History Of Violence or Eastern Promise. Always keen to dig in psychology’s triggers linking the realm of the physical with the pathological, this exploration of the insane excesses in Hollywood‘s celebrity machine seems like a fitting addition to his body of work.

Its excellent cast is led by Moore’s astonishing turn as Havana Seagrand, the ageing daughter of a Hollywood legend, struggling to keep her career afloat and fighting for a part in an indie remake of one of her mother’s old classics in the hope it will bring her fading star back on track. A by-product of a clash between the twin demons of monstrous vanity and self-harming insecurity, Havana is the centre in an outlandish gallery of characters damaged beyond dysfunction. Her brand new assistant (Mia Wasikowska, also excellent), a fresh and likeable new girl in town trying to hide the sequels of a fire accident, who came recommended by Carrie Fisher -appearing as herself in a short cameo; the assistant’s boyfriend, a driver looking for a break as screenplay writer (Robert Pattinson repeating collaboration with the director, this time at the wheel of a limo, after being driven through the streets of Cosmopolis); her therapist, a self-help TV guru with peculiar methods, played by the always reliable John Cusack, whose successful family is comprised by a very bankable child star, just out of rehab at the age of thirteen, loaded with a gargantuan ego only matched by the ones of his fellow teenage actors, and his career-controlling mother (Olivia Williams), balancing the demands of studios and lawyers with those of the family’s growing fortune and jeopardized status.

All of them go through their lives feeding Tinseltown’s unforgiving industry, on a parallel existence that takes over and swallow their real selves, in a world where age is a sword of Damocles planning over their heads and those skeletons in their closets too shocking to be sold as media exclusives become threatening ghosts from the past coming back to haunt them.

This brilliantly obscure farce brings back Cronenberg’s most unsettling and satisfying side. His gaze at the nightmare behind the glitz and glamour of the dream factory,the most disturbing vision of Hollywood since David Lynch’s masterpiece Mulholland Drive, is one not to be missed. ★★★★

, , ,