Maps to the Stars

"Excellent"

Maps to the Stars Review


As it explores Hollywood's inbred underbelly, this film becomes increasingly deranged and also rather dark and creepy, but it's so fiercely entertaining that it's impossible to look away from the screen. With razor-sharp performances, a brutally witty script by Bruce Wagner and snaky direction from David Cronenberg, the film is perhaps too knowing as it explores a group of fiercely ambitious people who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Things kick off as Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) arrives in Los Angeles and is collected by chauffeur Jerome (Robert Pattinson), who is also of course an aspiring screenwriter and actor. Focussed and determined, Agatha visits the ruins of a Hollywood Hills home before using a friendship with Carrie Fisher to get a job as an assistant to acclaimed actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore). Facing middle age, Havana is desperate for a comeback role in a remake of the movie that made her mother a star. Meanwhile, 13-year-old teen pin-up Benjie (Evan Bird) has completed rehab and is ready to act again, encouraged by his manager mother (Olivia Williams) and self-help guru dad (John Cusack), who are unnerved when they hear that Agatha is back in town. Clearly everyone has a secret that can jeopardise their career paths. And they're connected in ways no one wants to acknowledge.

The knotted mess of the plot is carefully unpicked over the course of the film, which only makes everything that much more intense and nasty. While it's blackly funny, the movie's overall tone is extremely grim, as these wealthy stars are crippled by emptiness and desperation. They're also willing to do just about anything to get ahead, from celebrating someone else's misfortune to blatantly lying about their pasts.

These kinds of layered characters give the cast a lot to play with. Moore is on fire as Havana, facing Hollywood's cruellest joke as a talented actress who dares to age. Her wild mood swings and yearning for success are so resonant that we almost hope she gets what she wants. The other standout is Williams, who delivers yet another finely tuned, emotionally lacerating turn as a Hollywood mom who simply can't allow anyone to see her inner turmoil. The other actors deliver performances that are just as powerful, even if their more aggressive characters are less endearing.

Some of the script's ambitious touches don't quite work, such as the way the less-stable characters see ghosts of their dead loved ones. And while the emphasis on the elements of fire and water adds some unnerving danger and catharsis, it's also slightly heavy-handed. What makes the film unmissable is the way it cleverly cuts through the showbiz industry, revealing cracks of reality behind the glamour. It may be a bit full-on, but anyone thinking of heading to Hollywood to become a star really needs to watch this first.



Maps to the Stars

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th February 2015

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Prospero Pictures, Sentient Entertainment, SBS Productions, Integral Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 38 Rotten: 18

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Said Ben Said, , Michel Merkt

Starring: as Havana Segrand, as Agatha Weiss, Evan Bird as Benjie Weiss, as Dr. Stafford Weiss, as Jerome Fontana, as Clarice Taggart, as herself, as Christina Weiss, Emilia McCarthy as Kayla, Niamh Wilson as Sam, as Victoria, Jayne Heitmeyer as Azita Wachtel, Clara Pasieka as Gretchen, Jennifer Gibson as Starla Gent, as Arnold, Jonathan Watton as Sterl Carruth

Also starring: ,

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