My Take – Unlike other films about Hollywood & their stars, this film gives us darker cynic look at the glamorous industry! It shows how the actors are motivated by vanity & how their success can remove their heads from the shoulders! & no matter what they cant shake their depressing feelings through the use of drink, drugs, sex and spiritualism. The movie begins with the introduction of Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a disfigured burn victim who arrives in Hollywood, & tells the limo driver Jerome (Rob Pattinson – in a small but important role) that she is here to help Carrie Fisher write a novel. She also tells Jerome she is visiting family but doesn’t go in to details, she seems more interested in sight seeing and visiting celebrity homes such as the previous home of child star Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), a foul mouthed 13 year old star of the ‘Bad Babysitter’ franchise. We also learn that Benjie is a recovering drug addict – a typical Hollywood child star.
Through her mutual friend Carrie fisher, Agatha starts working for Havana (Julianne Moore) as her PA. Havana has issues (what Hollywood fading celebrity doesn’t?) who pops pharmaceutical pills daily; she desperately wants the main role in a remake of a movie her mother was in years ago when she was young and beautiful; while at times she also hallucinates her dead mother played by Sarah Gadon. Finally you Havana’s unconventional therapist Dr Stafford and his wife Christina Weiss (John Cusack and Olivia Williams) the parents of Benjie. This film is full of wit, charm, and pure entertainment value. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but for those who love rich and layered characters, Cronenberg takes on Hollywood with zeal and humor. Some may classify the attempt as “mean,” but no different from other films who use black comedy to show broader message. The cast here bring in their top form to seal the deal. Julianne Moore is brilliantly unhinged and crude as Havana Segrand, this is without doubt the actress’s best performance till date! Evan Bird is very good as Benjie, a child star who is often obnoxious but really a product of his clearly unhealthy environment. His language is so gratuitous that it was almost comical, especially when expressing his unashamed contempt for the people working around him. I suppose he was hard to take seriously owing to his elongated neck and small height.
Mia Wasikowska is brilliant as the creepy yet delightful burn victim Agastha! This actress has been slowly steadily climbing the ladder, she has already won a fan in me! John Cusack is also well cast as Stafford Weiss, the self-help charlatan father of Benjie who is made very creepy by Cusack’s dark, dead eyes and blank expression. His wife is Christina (Olivia Williams), a woman bereft of any charisma who spends much of her time posturing anxiously with a cigarette in her hand. Robert Pattinson’s character Jerome Fontana, a shy limo driver with ambitions of being an actor/screenwriter, is strictly a small role. In a film full of freaks, Jerome is the ordinary, simple Hollywood wannabe, the one with which we can most relate to. Director David Cronenberg has given us a poetic & a mad film to look by, easily his best effort since A History of Violence (2005). On the whole Maps to the Stars is well orchestrated and symbolic film that stands as one of the year’s best films mainly due to Julianne Moore’s outstanding performance.
Director – David Cronenberg
Rated – R
Run Time – 111 minutes