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.
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