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Maps to the Stars - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Maps to the Stars
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B-
Editing: B-

There's something oddly off kilter about Maps to the Stars, in a host of ways. The most immediately noticeable of them is the editing and cinematography, which first comes across as somewhat inept. It leaves much of the dialogue, which on its own is mostly fine, feeling a little stilted. The words themselves don't feel forced but the way they are presented does, when just barely too much time passes between someone's comment and someone else's reply.

The camera angles are coldly stationery, and perhaps this is largely deliberate, but it lends a feeling of low budget to the film. It's very distracting . . . until it isn't.

It takes a while, particularly since director David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises) keeps things mysterious until near the end, but the story takes over. Almost out of nowhere, Maps to the Stars is bizarrely compelling. Cronenberg has done some stellar work in the past, and this movie doesn't really stack up to it, but it still reveals him to be a sneaky storyteller.

And although there is comedy here, it's more sinister than funny, making the humor dark indeed. This is perhaps unavoidable in a story involves both the murder of a child and incest. Oh, and schizophrenia. What fun!

Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) is just arriving in Los Angeles from Florida, having hired a limousine driver named Jerome (Robert Pattinson). She's here ostensibly to check out Hollywood and try to get into the entertainment industry. When she talks about becoming friends with Carrie Fisher "on Twitter," we easily assume she's just some nutcase -- until Fisher herself has a cameo, recommending Agatha to actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) for the job as her personal assistant.

Havana is obsessed with getting a part in a movie about her mother, who died in a fire -- playing the role of her mother. She is perhaps meant to be the quintessential deluded aging Hollywood actress, except in Cronenberg's world there's something very singular about her. Moore gets some scenes here that are both unflattering an awkward on multiple levels. If you ever dreamed of seeing Julianne Moore sitting on the toilet and farting while chatting with Mia Wasikowska, then this is the movie for you. Spoiler alert! She leaves the bathroom without washing her hands. Gross.

Havana also has a quack-ish physical/psychotherapist, Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack, in a role that unfortunately does not highlight much of his talents). He and his wife (Olivia Williams) are parents to superstar 13-year-old Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), who has let fame turn him into a little douche after the success of his movie Bad Babysitter -- the sequel to which he is now shooting.

There is far more than just degrees of separation connecting all of these characters, but I won't spoil it for you, even though I don't think there's any particular need to rush out and see this movie. But neither will you be disappointed if you do, so long as you can be patient. And for the first quarter to half of the movie, patience will be needed. Maps to the Stars is a fairly unpolished piece of work, but it's also a suitably crass and occasionally violent look at how modern Hollywood runs.

The entertainment industry is hardly a new target for cinematic satire, if "satire" is even what you can call this. This movie is a short left-turn away from the usual parade of such things, far from perfect but in a class of its own.

Mia Wasikowska and Julianne Moore get more than they bargained for in MAPS TO THE STARS.

Overall: B
1 comment or Leave a comment
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: June 17th, 2015 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)
This is a movie I am not really sure what to think of.
1 comment or Leave a comment