David Cronenberg’s latest ensemble, Maps to the Stars, takes us on a tour into modern day Hollywood where each new character is more psychotic and self-obsessed than the last. He takes the clichés of a life of fame, fortune and glamour in Hollywood and twists this into something dark, wicked and at times just down right gruesome.
Our door into this world comes from Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), an eighteen year old girl with severe burn disfigurement. Although at first glance it appears she may be a lost soul, coming to Hollywood in the hope of finding herself, it quickly becomes clear that this is not her first time in town.
Through a friend she manages to get a job as a personal assistant for Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), an actress on the brink of a mental break down, desperately seeking self-validation and relevance in the industry.
Therapist, Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) is attempting to help Havana through some of her deep rooted issues with her dead mother, who has taken to haunting her at inopportune moments.
Stafford’s son is a bratty teen star, fresh out of rehab at the tender age of thirteen. His career is being kept on tract by his overbearing mother Christina (Olivia Williams). As we delve further into their lives, secret connections between the characters are revealed.
Fantastic performances all round, especially from Julianne Moore, gives the film the strange quality of despising all of its characters but still being oddly intrigued as to their outcomes. Cronenberg doesn’t hold back at any point during Maps to the Stars.
It is comic but in a vulgar and brutish way that will leave you feeling ashamed for having laughed. The climatic and horrifying last half an hour brings the film to its disturbing finish which might leave you feeling quite speechless.
Not one for the squeamish, Maps to the Stars, is an interesting dissection of the celebrity world of Hollywood and its varying degrees of crazy and is most definitely worth a watch.