Maps to the Stars (2014)

Maps to the Stars (2014)When I think of Maps to the Stars (2014) my first thought is Bart Simpson’s selling fake maps to tourists in Springfield, who believe Moe the bartender is Drew Barrymore. That’s something I can’t shake loose. It’s only when you get to the land of dreams where everyone comes to make their name, wanting it up above a cinema in bright lights, for all to see them. Te desire to be loved, seen and adored above all else.

I think John Cusack is right, it the most revealing look into life behind closed doors. For an actor who began his career in the early 1980’s he has seen people come and go, the big changes over 32 years, which is a long time when you think about in terms of a modern Hollywood career. With all that said he wasn’t the draw to this film. Looking more for the director David Cronenberg whose films I have seen more of recently, more of his earlier work, which all had a sense of dread and impending doom that builds up at the end of the film. Usually bloody and gory with you starting to turn away from the screen as you have an idea of what could happen. Yet you can’t turn away completely, drawn by his complex characters who we have seen for the films duration. After his last film Cosmopolis (2012) I felt alienated by the complex language, I never really understood it, I won’t be returning to it anytime soon either.

I would however with Maps to the Stars which begins at what we believe to be a fan’s viewpoint, a weird looking girl Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska) from Florida who in-fact knows more than she’s letting on. Already having a connection to Carrie Fisher, just how did she pull that one off? Apparently just by connecting on Twitter was all it took, its incredibly easy today to reach celebrities, just a few characters of text in their direction, if they answer you’ve made a connection, however brief that is, you can build your life around that. All this is part of the fast-paced world of Hollywood today that is based on image and profile.

We meet all the characters briefly before we go back for more. The young teen star Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird) who is doing his bit for his own profile, whilst not really caring. Another obnoxious teen-star who already a pre-maddona wanting it all right now, a creation of his own young success and driven family to live the Hollywood dream. Waiting to see if he can begin shooting another sequel in a franchise that built him up. Waiting to join him on-screen is a true child of Hollywood Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), wanting to make this easy money maker. A neurotic actresses who cannot escape the shadow of her late Art-house actress mother who died in a fire. We first meet her having an unusual therapy and massage session with with self-made guru Dr. Stafford Weiss (Cusack) whose has an incredible hold over her. She soaks it all up, he has all the answers, with his help she will be better. 

It takes to join all the dots up but all of these characters are connects, the Weiss family is a fractured one doing their best to live off the system that allows them to function. With their own domestic problems. Not being able see their son is a just as flawed as their dangerous daughter. Whilst actress Segrand is desperate for a role that she loses all compassion for her friend who first gets the role. Theres a loss of humanity with these characters, even Robert Pattinson‘s wannabe actor Jerome Fontana who is easily led. His connection is not half as strong as the rest of the characters, his screen time is also poor in comparison to John Cusack who also had a with credit a sign of status but replicated in screen time.

Of course as with all Cronenberg’s films there is that build up and complication of the characters situations that becomes unbearable. What we learn about these unsavoury characters begins to make sense. The visions that some of them have make more sense. Pattinson in comparison gets on lightly going with research for a script which is not intone, is his comeuppance off-screen. It’s not a perfect film, let down by the special effects, or the sign of a low-budget which I can accept. Once again Moore is on scary form, is she channelling dark desires we don’t usually see on-screen.  Maps to the Stars is probably as spot on as you’re going to get, even in the aftermath of the Sony Leak last year which revealed just how similar the film world is to any other industry, lots of in-fighting, arguments, all normal really. The industry that plays on our fantasy is as real as any other beyond the glamour. It’s how you decide to live your life and take the opportunities. Those further down in the film-system are in their own screwed up world, all trying to get on the best they can. Surely theres a better way though?

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2 responses

  1. Good review Tim. It’s hilarious in that it makes fun of just about everybody involved with the world of Hollywood. The rest of the movie, however, was a tad bit overblown.

    April 6, 2015 at 2:31 am

    • I didn’t really find it hilarious more dark if anything.

      April 6, 2015 at 8:20 am

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