Little White Lies:
It's an infuriating movie, and that is possibly the point. It feels like a ten-part TV mini-series which has been inelegantly compressed to feature length. There are so many quote marks littered on to the screen that it's hard to make finite judgements on elements which may be knowingly bad or just bad bad. A scene where Benjie is given a gun and places it against his head having taking the bullets out follows a tried-and-tested trajectory. But is it meant to? Is this duplicated banality? It's hard to tell. It's hard to tell if Cronenberg can tell. The smart money's on yes, but further research is definitely required.
There are so many snakes in play, it takes a while to work out which fangs connect to which rattle. The first is Agatha, the young woman from the coach, played by Mia Wasikowska. She’s come to town ostensibly to help the actress Carrie Fisher, whom she befriended on Twitter, to write a novel – “although it might become something for HBO,” she blithely tells Jerome, a chauffeur and would-be actor winningly played by Robert Pattinson.
Maps To The Stars is a film having plenty of fun with the notion of Hollywood dynasties and the processes by which success is achieved and cemented – who knows whom, who’s seeing whom, who hates whom: all the invisible, untraceable connections that bind Hollywood together. The joke is that there is no map to these stars, and without an innate sense of direction you’ll soon be lost. Hollywood is often decried as incestuous, and this film plays that idea to the hilt, with the product of incestuous breeding even more troubled and egotistical than the generation before that.
Maps to the Stars is a tense and scary movie, unwholesome in the hold that it has on the audience. Perhaps, in the end, it is too extravagantly cynical to be entirely truthful about Hollywood and LA, but it has a Jacobean power, the kind of thing that John Webster or Thomas Middleton and William Rowley might write if they were living in the 21st century: a claustrophobic nightmare of despair.
Cronenberg’s direction feels at home in a world of soulless homes and offices, clubs at night and flash cars. He locates a deeply sick spirit in his tale and explores it through far-fetched fiction told with deadly seriousness, also adding a dose of baroque to proceedings and a streak of wicked humour. ‘Maps of the Stars’ offers some ludicrous moments and a fair few bum notes, but we’re still left with a troubling sense of infected bloodlines, sick Hollywood genes and a world any sane person would run a mile from.
Julianne Moore's raw power is on display, but the Blanche DuBois act feels equally wrought. Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson are perfectly fine. Newcomer Evan Bird can spout "Jew cunt" as written on the page and come across as douchey when called for, but his venom comes across more as school-bully than truly demonic child actor.
Pattinson and Cronenberg are developing a nice collaboration, however, and here's to hoping we get to see more from the two of them.
Before you ask: no, Robert Pattinson isn't in it all that much (his role could argue be lifted from the film without too much problem), but yes, he's pretty good in it. Plus you get to see him as a sort of glam-rock version of Khan from "Star Trek," so there's that.
As it is, “Maps” spreads itself too thin, lavishing the majority of its attention on Moore’s high-risk performance. The actress seems game to push the limits, partnering with a director who never plays it safe, and yet Wagner’s script is content to go after easy targets: child actors, Scientology, revolving-door rehab programs, New Age-y pseudo-spiritualism. With all due respect to the fine work they do, acting is a line of work that tends to attract broken people: those who thrive under false identities, forever seeking public reinforcement.
- robbiereviews: Well, Maps to the Stars is *incredible*. #Cannes2014
- AwardsDaily: Maps to the stars is twisted, creepy, brilliant. I fucking loved it. In tradition of Dead Ringers...
- XanBrooks: Maps to the Stars paints heady portrait of a ghastly, corrupted Hollywood tide-pool. Julianne Moore the standout in on-form cast #cannes2014
- catherinebray: I adored the dark Hollywood satire of Cronenberg's Maps To The Stars. So funny, and with brilliant perfs, especially Evan Bird. #Cannes2014
- foundasonfilm: Life as an endless series of remakes: Cronenberg's MAPS TO THE STARS is a wickedly smart Hollywood satire with a serrated edge. #cannes
- TaybackX: MAPS TO THE STARS: Croney is back, he's fucking back to his days of CRASH! Brilliant satire on Hollywood, and Julianne slays. #Cannes2014
- RonaldRovers: #MapsToTheStars Cronenberg turned the golden film prize statue into Chekov's gun mmiedl: MAPS TO THE STARS? yes, exactly as bat-shit crazy as I imagined. #Cannes2014 spliggle: Well Maps to the Stars is a bit brilliant/insane. #Cannes2014
- dunerfors: Maps to the Stars - such a strange and fucked up thriller comedy. Julianne Moore is a blast. #Cannes2014
- stevepond: Who knew we needed Cronenberg doing The Player meets Carrie? Maps to the Stars is hellacious fun.
- heavier_things: Maps to the Stars: brilliant, biting satire from Cronenberg. Laughed all the way through. Perfect casting. Really dug this one. #Cannes2014
- KetchumAtMovies: Maps to the Stars - [A]. Top form Cronenberg. Twisted, smart, and insane. Academy gods, give Ms. Moore an Oscar nomination! #Cannes2014
- gabrielecapo: Maps to the Stars: Hollywood, the dead ringer of itself. A reiteration of the same idea. Life is not. My Palm so far #Cannes2014 #Cronenberg
- Jake_Howell: MAPS TO THE STARS: Bruce Wagner, brilliant cartographer. This movie is so cool and twisted and funny. #Cannes2014
- olilyttelton: MAPS TO THE STARS: Deliciously fucked-up Hollywood gothic-cum-Greek tragedy. Cronenberg's most entertaining in ages. #cannes
- totalfilm: Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars is a deliciously warped satire of Hollywood’s debauched excesses. A bit mad and a bit brilliant. #Cannes
- catherinebray: A couple of Pattinson fans have asked, so: he's not in Maps to the Stars that much, but is good when he is. Has two love interests.
- jhoffman: There's a scene in MAPS TO THE STARS where Robert Pattinson wears Star Trek-ish makeup. just FYI.
- _Winter_wind: Wasikowska is very neurotic, Moore is totally insane, Cusack is a mess and Robert Pattinson very little to be seen but actually v insane