Thursday, 2 April 2015

Film Review: Maps To The Stars

Maps to the Stars is the latest film from director David Cronenberg (The Fly, A Dangerous Method). It's a satirical drama film about the inner-workings of Hollywood and it stars Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson and John Cusack.

It's an ensemble piece that ties lots of story strands together - there's Moore as the ageing actress who can't land a part, Wasikowska as a plucky young thing who is captivated by the showbiz scene, Pattinson as a limo driver for the stars and Cusack as a therapist.

This means that the film does feel a little unfocused and jumbled - it takes a good 30+ minutes for two of the main characters, Havana (Moore) and Agatha (Wasikowska), to actually share a scene. Before that we get all sorts of unconnected sequences and are introduced to some annoying twerp in the form of Evan Bird's spoilt child actor Benjie.

Some of the strands are interesting - I liked Agatha's storyline and the scenes that she shared with Moore and Pattinson. They all give really funny performances that poke fun at themselves and the movie business in general. I think that when the film had a narrow focus, it worked well. When it didn't, and the narrative strayed to other characters like Benjie, it suffered.

The film leans heavily on satirising Hollywood and showbiz culture - name drops and referential humour come a dozen a minute. This is all good and stuff but Cronenberg also delves into some of the darker and more taboo sides of the industry. Even though it may be in jest, the constant references to incest are just plain weird and disturbing.

There's also a raft of weird, disjointed stuff like Havana seeing visions of their long dead mother Clarice (Sarah Gadon). Is it all necessary? Probably not. Does it make a lick of sense? Not really. Does it make for an interesting film that probably has more to say if you really sit and think about it? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Who knows.

The thing about Maps to the Stars is that, unlike something like Enemy, it didn't engage me enough for me to care about finding out more. I'm not so hooked that I'm going to delve into forums to unravel the mystery and secrets. All that weird, metaphorical stuff just ended up being plain silly and indulgent rather than gripping and intriguing.

The Verdict: 4/10

Part showbiz satire, part ghost story and all gibberish, Maps to the Stars might have something interesting or poignant to say - if you can decipher the crap and read between the (cocaine) lines. All joking aside, Cronenberg does at least have some valid points to make with this film - it's just they're lost beneath unlikeable characters, nonsensical plotting and a real sense that the whole thing is going nowhere.


  1. Bahh, I hadn't heard of Maps to the Stars until I read your post, but maybe that's for the best! It does sound interesting, but unlikable characters just kill a movie!
    - Allie

    1. Yeah, I can't say I'd recommend this one - avoid if possible! Thanks for commenting Allie :)

  2. I liked Julianne Moore in this one, she was crazy good. The film does get messy and its relation to one another seems weird and uneven at times.

    1. Yeah, she was probably the best part huh? I think 'messy' sums it up pretty well though! :)



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